Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Mayor McWho?

May 21, 2013

I was on the Betty’s Attic Web site, and I found McDonald’s character action figures for sale. They have the Hamburglar, the Grimace and Mayor McCheese.

I’m incredulous.

About two months ago my son and I were in a McDonald’s, and I was remembering the character cookies I used to get when I was a little girl — little Fry Guys, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook and such.

I asked the girl behind the counter if they still had them. She said, “What characters?”

“Have you never heard of the Grimace and the Hamburglar?”


Wow. I have Ronald and Hamburglar pillow dolls I got as part of a promotion when I was 3. The Hamburglar has a removable cape.

The Hamburglar is an icon. I was crestfallen.

So I did a little investigating. As far as I can surmise, McDonald’s was sued by Sid and Marty Krofft over an ad they made. This was the invention of McDonaldland. They weren’t credited. You can clearly see Mayor McCheese’s resemblance to H.R. Pufnstuff.

McDonald’s lost the lawsuit, and in 1987 scaled back to Ronald, Grimace, the Hamburglar and a new addition — a bird with aviator glasses.

Then, when child obesity became a hot topic, the restaurant promised not to aim advertising at children. McDonald’s abandoned all of its characters.

My parents’ generation all remember where they were when JFK was shot. As for me and mine, we have Mayor McCheese.


The Christmas pageant

December 20, 2012

This morning I saw a Christmas pageant written and performed by teens. It was not the traditional birth-of-Christ tale.

This one was a what-if story: What if Jesus had been born in 2009?

The play opened in the apartment of Mary and Josephine, a married lesbian couple struggling with unemployment.

God tells the angel Gabriel she’s (yes, God was a she) putting a baby in Mary that would be the savior. Gabriel shows up on TV, interrupting Survivor Egypt, to break the news. This was because God had specified texting the announcement was not in order.

Nine months later the expectant moms were turned away from two hospitals because they had no health care coverage, and were forced to deliver in their apartment on the couch.

Three wise men from Hollywood were following not a star, but the red dot of Gabriel’s laser pointer, to offer gifts to the baby Jesus: myrrh, frankincense and an iPod.

I later learned they had planned to dress in drag, and enter singing ‘We Three Queens,’ but the pastor got calls from the some of the parents. Killjoys.

There was great comedy throughout, timely topics and a chorus of Halleluja.

The Christmas season has begun.

A memory joke

December 18, 2012

As my longtime readers know, I’m tortured by my keen memory.

Yesterday I was at a luncheon, and a gentleman at my table was telling us he went to a workshop on improving memory. The speaker had solicited a list of 11 things and was able to remember each item and its number.

Hell, when I was subbing, I would call roll, then tell the kids to shuffle seats. Throughout the period, when a kid raised his hand, I would call on him by name. It was my running parlor trick.

The guy at the luncheon said he Googled memory jokes before the event, so he’d have a good one to tell when he introduced the speaker.

I wish he’d called me. I have a good one:

A man was bragging to his friend about some new pills he’d discovered that improved his memory.

“What are they called?” asked his buddy.

“I’ll tell you. You know that flower you give on Valentine’s Day? The red one?”

“A rose?”

“That’s it!” Leans back toward the doorway. “Rose? Honey, what’s the name of those pills I’m taking?”

I say skip the pills and workshops, and treasure the ability to forget.


November 17, 2012

My son and I just read through all of the stories in the My Son category. My old stories are so much better than my latest ones.

From there I clicked on the Top Posts button I have backstage here, to see what posts have been read the most.

The numbers surprised me.

Of my 313 posts, The Comma Argument is in first place. This is not even close to being my best post.

The recent A New Expression is tied for second with The Refrigerator Story. I understand why the Fridge made it so high. I wouldn’t be surprised to find other people telling the story on their own blogs.

Breaking up is one click behind those, but I accuse Miss Julia of pushing that number up singlehandedly. J’accuse, mon petite fromage.

Archery, possibly my favorite, is in fourth place, and Pets are Nasty rounds out the top five.

Some of my stories have high points because of hot words. For instance, My Mother-in-Law’s Story gets hit constantly. There has not been a day since I posted it that someone hasn’t Googled the words ‘naughty mother-in-law.’

Mike Tried to Get Me in a Catfight
enjoyed the same fame, because people worldwide are hungry to read anything with the word ‘catfight.’

The Special Day Class, which tied for the win in my best-post poll, ranks in the bottom third.

And most of the rest of the content from the Best of SO’M category sits below that.

There are posts I wish no one would read, because they’re just me complaining, like The Home Showing Disaster, The Favor Story, The Horrible Person and I was Dismissed from the PTA. These have more clicks than they should.

Only three people have clicked on Tormenting, but 25 have clicked on Pulp Fiction. I think that’s backward. Tormenting is a much better story.

And Even in Pain, I’m a Smartass joins The Mac n’ Cheese Story and six other worthier posts with one click each.

I can’t figure you guys out.

The home showing disaster

November 13, 2012

Today I had lunch with two friends, one of whom is a Realtor.

My Realtor friend said of this site, “When you read her blog, it’s like looking in a mirror. You can see yourself in her stories.”

I hope he doesn’t see himself in this one.

I used to be a licensed Realtor myself. I was especially bad at it. Possibly I was cursed.

This was during the two-year period my husband was the stay-at-home parent. I was concurrently working at the paper.

I achieved my license through the sponsorship of my broker, who promised handholding throughout the career launching.

I got a desk and a nameplate and the code to the office lockbox key.

One afternoon a man, woman and baby came into the office and told me what they were looking for in a house. I don’t remember the exact words, but it was something like “We would like a big, expensive house, please.”

This was it — my first commission was about to happen.

I made an appointment to take them looking at several addresses the next afternoon. I called the sellers to have them leave the houses vacant and clean.

In the meantime, I bought a new suit, rented a nice car and printed a list of homes that met their specifications.

I had a meeting with my broker for advice. He handed me the lockbox key, which was like a cell phone keypad. His advice: Don’t tell them you’re new at this.

I met the family at the office.

We were off.

At the first three houses I couldn’t get the lockbox open. The husband was getting that wants-to-flee look.

I couldn’t reach the broker by cell phone, so I apologized to the family and drove them back to my office for support. No one was there.

I went to the brokerage across the street and asked for help. They checked my key and said the code’s activation had lapsed.

One of the agents showed me how to reactivate it by phone.

We were off again.

It still didn’t work.

The next day two things happened. The family called to thank me for my time. They wouldn’t be needing any more of it, however, becase that evening they found a house with another agent and bought it.

And the broker ripped me a new butthole for outting his breaking the rules. Turns out, brokers aren’t allowed to let staff agents use their keys, which he knew.

The helpful agent across the street had reported him.

At that moment and this one, I hated him. I hated that I had invested money I didn’t have on a doomed mission. I blame him thoroughly.

My broker was forced to discontinue providing a key for new agents, and was forever angry with me about it.

This may be a result of my having a small fit.

I got a key of my own, but seldom had opportunity to use it — me being an especially bad Realtor, and all.

Reader participation

October 23, 2012

I am lying on the couch for the third day, waiting for my fever to break. It was down to the low 99s this afternoon, but right now it’s at 101.4.

I have stories yet to tell, but I am drugged with groggy goodness and am afraid to muck them up. I don’t have spell check.

Instead, I’m putting forth a challenge and asking everybody to play along.

On the radio, which I listened to while I had a hot bath this morning, there was discussion about constructing the perfect band. People were calling in.

Some applied the rule that you couldn’t use dead guys, which I applied to myself until I decided I need Ray Charles on keys. Another rule is that you can’t use two people from the same band in different categories, which is why — for those who know me well and are in shock — I didn’t put Nikki Sixx or Joe Perry as my rhythm guitarist.

While lying in wait of sleep or worse, I stewed on this challenge. My drummer, bassist and lyricist came to me first. No brainers — they’re the best there is, I say. 

Ultimately I came up with this wunderband:

  • Lead vocals, Rob Thomas and P!nk
  • Lead guitar, Rick Nielsen
  • Rhythm guitar, Joni Mitchell
  • Bass, Mick Mars
  • Keyboard, Ray Charles
  • Drums, Nigel Olsson
  • Background vocals, Clare Torry
  • Mandolin and fiddle, Cyndi Lauper (this broad is a mean musician no matter what she’s on.)
  • Sitar, Justin Hayward
  • Lyricist and harmonica, Steven Tyler
  • Songwriters, Bob Bryar, Frank Iero, Raymond Toro, Gerard Arthur Way and Michael James Way (The My Chemical Romance team)
  • Tambourine, Lori Partridge (cuz she’s just that much better than Davy Jones)

OK readers, your turn.


October 18, 2012

I woke up in the dark hours of this morning with a migraine.

Somehow I made it to the bedroom doorway, but couldn’t get farther. My husband woke up and got me an Excedrin Migraine pill and some water.

Let me give a free ad to this product. You’re about to read what my migraines are like. Nothing else works. Since it was invented I’ve kept a bottle in the car, my purse, and several places in the house. It’s made a big difference in my life.

I was 17 when I got my first attack. I had come home from work with just a bad headache, but by the time I had gotten upstairs it was so bad I couldn’t get to my bedroom. I lay in the hallway, thinking there was no way I could survive another 10 seconds of that pain, as it went on for minute after minute.

The second one started while I was playing Trivial Pursuit at my family reunion, which you read about in Sonnets. It rained that day, and the whole fam damily was packed in Auntie Barbara’s great room, which I ended up lying in the middle of with my arms pressed over my eyes before my boyfriend peeled me up and drove me to the hotel. I was 20.

My third struck when I was 24, and my fourth when I was 27. But the summer I turned 28 I had a bunch of them. I ended up in a CAT scan machine.

Over the years, my husband has found me on the kitchen floor, the front lawn; once I got one while I was driving home from the grocery store. I was around the corner from home when it got bad enough I had to pull over. I had toddlers strapped in th back seat wondering what was going on.

This morning’s was one of the worst I’ve ever had. My husband gave me a pill and some water, and I waited, chewing that familiar dread of an in surmountable few more seconds of pain. I tried to come up with ways to cope until the medicine broke through. That’s what it’s like, a balloon bursting. Excedrin is the cavalry, ride in to save.

I tried to think about lying on a beach, watching football, being hit on.

It didn’t come. Twenty-six minutes went by, and the relief didn’t come. I sent my husband to get me another pill.

Sitting up to swallow makes it worse for a little while. I’m a rational woman, but while I waited for the second one to work I was thinking about having my husband take me to the hospital to have me put down.

Then it washed it over me — freedom from pain. It brought its buddy, the will to live.

And here I am, woke to blog another day.

The pie crust story

October 6, 2012

The Beatles are over right now. They come over on Monday nights for football and dinner.

You remember, they live in our other house. My husband asked Paul if he’s gone into the market on the corner. There’s a Mexican deli in the back. “Have you had the beans from there, or the chips? They’re the best there is.”

I had to tell my story about the time I did my grocery shopping there.

This place is straight out of Mexico. There are pinatas hanging from the ceiling and polka music piped out of speakers above the pan dulce.

I’ve never heard the employees speak English.

I was looking for pie crust, which I didn’t know the word for. No big deal. Just like when I spent my semester in Guanajuato, I talked around the words I didn’t know.

I grabbed an hombre, “Perdon, estoy buscando la cosa en que pones la fruita quando estas cocinando un pastel.” (I’m looking for that thing you put the fruit in when you’re cooking a pie.)

The guy looks at me like I’m an idiot. He can speak English. I can see it.

He lifted an eyebrow and one corner of his mouth. “Crost?”

The lottery

August 29, 2012

I listen to news radio on my way home from work. Today, there were four topics: the wildfires, the kidnappee who’s been found 18 years post, the lottery and the weather.

It was more than 110 degrees this afternoon. It was more than 100 degrees after dinner. It seems not everyone holds my appreciation for free heat.

The lottery, though, was stealing air time from the stuff I was interested in. People in line at the 7-Eleven were being interviewed. Each knew she was about to buy the winning ticket.

Just now my husband and I went to see The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is based on one of the best books I’ve ever read. (The movie is great, but loses the voice of the author’s narrative, which is where the book’s brilliance lay, in this bibliophile’s opinion.)

There was a scene that was not in the book, where they watch the lottery balls drop.

I came home and went to, because I can’t help it. The poll question of the day is ‘Do you buy lottery tickets?’

Now I’m feeling stalked.

I have lottery issues. Why are the pots so big, but schools are still cutting out music and language programs? Didn’t the California ballot specify the exemption from the gambling prohibition was justified by schools’ getting a big cut?

And where are these ticket buyers coming from? Haven’t they seen the quip on the freeway, explaining that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math?

Really, I’m not here to judge anybody. I just want to enjoy my kidnapper-catch news and my heat.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving me two months of comfort. I’ll take those over a lottery ticket any day.

To every thing there is a season

August 18, 2012

Every year I pick something to try.

For instance, since I turned 35 I became skilled on roller skates, learned to  jazz dance, re-studied french and got hooked on football.

As of Sunday, I am not plucking my gray hairs out.

This may be the hardest one.

Happiness defined

July 18, 2012

A family friend recently became widowed, and just as we were talking about our concern for her in that big house all alone, there were a couple of break-ins in her nice neighborhood.
Last week over girls talk I asked her if she had a dog.
“No, and I don’t want one.”
We all looked at her blankly.
“My husband used to say happiness was when the kids moved out and the dog died.”
Oh I can so see that.

The tube top story

July 13, 2012

My morning radio guys were talking about fads the other day, and one of them said he wished the tube top would come back in style. He loved to see a woman in a white one with a pair of jeans.

My grama’s older sister learned a lesson about tube-top wearing. About 25 years ago Auntie Martha was wearing one in a Lake Tahoe casino. She was about 70, but she had famously great rack.

She sat with her cup of quarters at the slot machine most of the afternoon, inserting a quarter, pulling the lever.

At early evening a man tapped her on the shoulder. Her tube top was around her waist.

Ding ding ding ding ding.

To each his own

July 3, 2012

Avocado Coffee Fudge Sundae for Dessert

Anyone ever gone rogue at the dinner table?

I had to share this photo of a guy in Canada’s favorite dessert: an avocado coffee fudge sundae.

If you try this, please let me know what you thought.

Whenever I get a sore throat, I like to drink Coke and orange juice. Yes, mixed together.

My grandad used to put peanut butter on his eggs, I’ve heard tell.

What do you eat? Shock me.

My dead pool

June 26, 2012

I run a dead pool. This is a common game in newsrooms. People pay an entry fee and compile a list of famous people.

From New Year’s Day to New Year’s Eve, if someone on the list dies, the player who chose him gets 100 points minus the celebrity’s age.

John is already at 180 points. My cousin Christi is close behind with 146 points, and my very first boyfriend is in third with 123 points. All three of them predicted Jane Goody’s death. She was 27.

I remember the year JFK Jr. died. One reporter had made that canny pick, and got 61 points for it. He was the winner that year.

Now my group is having a hot couple of days. Farrah Fawcett was worth 38 points. Seven of my 13 players had her on their lists.

Jacko netted three other players a surprise 50 points. It’s the deaths that aren’t a sure thing that make the game fun.

And the aw shucks factor: three players had Ed McMahon on last year’s list, but not one kept him.

I run the thing, and have never, in all the years I’ve played, earned a single point.

Oh well. I have other skills.

The story of our new house

April 6, 2012

Now you know why we moved. Here’s the story about the buying of the new house.

The woman who lived in this house raised four children to adulthood in it. Then her husband died and her brother and sister moved in. All three were elderly.

The house was decorated in traditional old person, from the macrame blinds to the striped wallpaper. The brown shag complements the copper pipe decoration that hangs from the cottage-cheese ceiling in the entry.

We haven’t done a thing to it, incidently, in the year we’ve been here.

The woman lived in the master bedroom.

She was old, and she became sick. The sicker she got, the more she stayed in bed — in the master bedroom.

Ultimately, her siblings called her children, who now live in other parts of the United States, and said that the woman was no longer lucid. The children flew to California in early December and determined she needed to live in a convelescent home.

They wanted to sell the house while they were here. They told their Realtor to come up with the property’s market value and knock $300K off the price.

“Sell it today,” they said.

That’s when my Realtor interrupted my breakfast by cell phone.

They accepted our offer of full asking price that evening.

During the escrow period we had to get a professional home inspection.

The inspector found three kinds of mold in one room. The levels were “off the charts.” Guess where.

Meanwhile, the woman was healthy and had regained her lucidity, having spent a few weeks out of that master bedroom.

To add insult to toxicity, the seller had to pay $10,000 to get the mold eradicated and the house retested.


Guest blogger day!

May 15, 2011

By Shannon Starr
When my baby was still a baby I was raising her all by myself. During the course of the day there was not a single soul I could turn to and say, “Keep an eye on the baby while I _________ (fill in the blank: take a nap, shower or shit).”
I looked forward to the day she would be somewhat self-sufficient. The first milestone was when she could sit up in the bathtub and play all by herself. For about one hour at the end of the day she would amuse herself with her bath toys. I would be within line-of-sight constantly about 10 feet away in the kitchen. One end of the counter was five feet from the bathroom door, I would never leave the line-of-sight and the whole time I would feel like a horrible mother because I was not right there within arm’s length of saving her life.
I would wash dishes, fix my dinner and her dinner while she would sit there and play with her favorite toy.
The toy was a mama duck with two baby ducks. The little family set came with three rings, the rings connected with each other and the yellow mama duck went into the big ring and the blue and red baby ducks went into little rings.
“Quack, quack, quack,” Alexandria would say while she splashed and lifted the ducks out of their rings and then put them back.
One day during our evening routine I looked over and then went back to work.
“Quack, quack, quack,” said Alex.
Something made me turn back and look again.
I knew she had a yellow duck, a blue duck and a red duck.
I didn’t recognize the duck she had in her hand.
“Quack, quack, quack,” she said as her little hand moved the object in front of her face.
“Where did the brown duck come from?” I wondered.
I broke for a run to the bathtub.
I don’t know how much more I have to spell this out now folks,
but let’s just say that when she started the bath she didn’t have a brown duck. She made one herself.

You can impact global warming without sacrifice — Blog Action Day, 2009

October 15, 2009

I am participating in Blog Action Day today, joining more than 9,000 bloggers writing about climate change.

I’m a section editor for Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Last month I wrote a cover story about a nationwide movement to reduce energy use.

Here’s the short version:
Getting your home insulation changed from batt to foam will reduce your electric bills by 50 percent, improve your health, make a major reduction in your contribution to global warming and make you more comfortable in terms of indoor temperature.

  • Buildings kick out 43 percent of the carbon emissions in the United States, primarily from keeping indoors hot and cold.
  • Batt insulation cannot be installed without leaving spaces. A 5 percent space will reduce the insulations effectiveness by 60 percent.
  • I guarantee your air conditioner is at least twice as big and working twice as hard as it needs to be, because ductwork and walls aren’t insulated thoroughly. An eight-ton air conditioner with no insulation is the same as a two-ton air conditioner with insulation in terms of the coolness of a home, but not in terms of health or carbon emissions or dollars spent.
  • If you finance the work, you will save more per month than you pay on the debt.
  • There are tax incentives and government rebates for those who make energy efficiency improvements as well.

I have arranged for a member of the Department of Energy Task Force to give a free presentation on this Nov. 4 at 168 Bellevue Ave. in Redlands, Calif. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Everyone is welcome. Tell your friends.

Lets save the world, our money and our health, and be comfortable in the bargain.

For more information or to reserve a spot, call HartmanBaldwin at (909) 670-1344 or e-mail

Note to readers:

August 24, 2009

My Dirty Old Man friend is confused. Maybe lots of people are confused, so I will clarify.

At no point have I referred to the musicians from Liverpool when I’ve talked about the Beatles. I have my own Beatles, John, Paul and George (and now, Jay, who I ought to call Ringo, I suppose). They were all reporters with me at The Press, and are all in my poker league.

With the exception of John, they rent my other house.

I love them, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Initial post

January 7, 2009

My site is bare, and I’m not sure this post will work, but I’m assuming this is more catharsis than anything people will be interested in anyway.

I have a lot of stories. I’ll use this blog to post them as they come to mind, and at some point maybe I’ll put them in chronological order. I’ll either end up with some semblance of a diary or a dime novel.