In spite of ourselves…

I think we may have found a new theme song…

John Prine rocks!

Yesterday was kind of a musical day. A few days ago, I was bored and asked some friends to recommend songs for me to sing. One of my friends recommended John Prine. I had heard of him and am very fond of singing his hit, “Angel From Montgomery”, although I usually do Bonnie Raitt’s version. I don’t know why, but I never really explored him more than that.

My friend wanted me to sing “Summer’s End”, but I couldn’t find appropriate accompaniment for it. She then recommended “Souvenirs”. I listened to it, loved it, and found it very easy to learn. Here’s my version. John Prine is a wonderful songwriter. I should have discovered him a long time ago.

Anyway… yesterday, I discovered Prine’s duet with Iris Dement. It’s funny, because I became an Iris Dement fan several years ago, but I would say John Prine is more famous than she is. I don’t think he could have chosen a better partner for this song. She has wonderfully quirky vocals that match his funny lyrics. I thought they were so funny that I had to learn it myself. Again, it was easy to do…

Here are the words:

She don’t like her eggs all runny
She thinks crossin’ her legs is funny
She looks down her nose at money
She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
She’s my baby, I’m her honey
I’m never gonna let her go

He ain’t got laid in a month of Sundays
Caught him once and he was sniffin’ my undies
He ain’t too sharp but he gets things done
Drinks his beer like it’s oxygen
He’s my baby, I’m his honey
I’m never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow
Against all odds, honey we’re the big door-prize
We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces
There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes

She thinks all my jokes are corny
Convict movies make her horny
She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
Swears like a sailor when she shaves her legs
She takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’
I’m never gonna let her go

In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow
Against all odds, honey we’re the big door-prize
We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces
There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes

When Bill and I got married, I was kind of hooked on an old Lyle Lovett song. I would have loved to have played it at our reception. You probably know which one, if you know Lyle Lovett…

It’s me…

But now, after sixteen years of marriage, I think the John Prine duet is more our style. I haven’t caught sniffin’ my undies yet, though. If I ever do, I might have to write a song about that myself.

Safewords…

It’s Friday, and I’m in the mood to overshare again. Well… maybe not overshare so much as remind everyone that we all have value and purpose, and sometimes you never realize what your true value is. You just never know all of whom you’ll touch in this life. And this particular anecdote is big on touching… kind of like this famous song by Divinyls.

Truth be told, I was never a fan of this song, but it fits with today’s lurid topic…

Picture it. It’s August 1999. I have just arrived at graduate school in Columbia, South Carolina. I don’t own a computer. Within weeks of my arrival on campus, it becomes very clear that I need a computer. I go to the computer lab in the library (I think) and order one from Gateway… or was it a Gateway computer from Amazon? Honestly, I don’t remember anything other than the fact that it was an Intel Celeron that came with a printer and cost $999, which was a fortune to me at the time. It definitely was a Gateway computer. Gateway was big at the time.

I was 27 years old and had zero sex life whatsoever. My computer arrived. I unpacked it and set it up. Before you know it, I’m online. I live alone in my apartment and don’t have to worry about anyone looking over my shoulder. Remember… no sex life, and I was bored, lonely, and overwhelmed by the prospect of three long years studying for degrees I hoped would lead to a career more interesting than waiting tables. And I was nearing my sexual peak. Or, so the experts tell us I should have been. It wasn’t long before I started to explore some of the more chocolate areas of the Internet.

I’m not really ashamed about this now, especially considering where my explorations ultimately led me. At the time, it was kind of embarrassing and exciting all at once, especially when I realized I could connect with other people. I have alway loved reading, researching, and exploring subjects that fascinate me. In 1999, I was a little obsessed with sex– and I don’t mean plain old vanilla sex, either.

It was during this time when I stumbled across a Web site run by a guy named Tammad Rimilia. Tammad dubbed himself the “Gentleman Barbarian” and he was an expert in IT (information technology, that is). He was also a BDSM enthusiast.

Tammad made his Web site on Excite.com (an early popular search engine) and it included a number of essays, articles, and stories about BDSM. I also remember that he’d put in a link that read, “If you’re under 18, please go somewhere more exciting.” You clicked the link, and it would take you to the Excite landing page. Yes… a little corny, but kind of cute, too. He also had a little recording of his welcome, so a person could hear his voice.

As a young woman, I had done some reading about the subject and had read a lot of Nancy Friday’s books. I remember very clearly buying My Secret Garden at Waldenbooks and being terribly embarrassed about it, even though that book is about as old as I am and is very tame by today’s standards. The Internet was something different, though. For the first time ever, I had a whole world of information at my fingertips. Pretty soon, I was knee deep in new terminology about BDSM, learning terms like “Domme”, “Dom”, “sub”, “switch”, “safe, sane, and consensual”, and “safewords”.

Tammad Rimilia came across as a very friendly guy who would never hurt anyone. He wrote professional grade articles about the BDSM lifestyle, as well as goofy short stories about bondage that were more silly than scary. He explained his name Tammad was of Nordic origin and that he was seeking someone to share his interests with him, although it was plain to see that he and I could never be a match. For one thing, he was significantly older than I am and lived in a different part of the country. For another thing, he was a neat freak. I got the sense that it would be like a cat person trying to be with a dog person.

I probably read Tammad’s goofy stories more than his articles about Japanese rope bondage. I was more interested in escaping the rigors of school than learning how to safely and properly bind someone in an intricate rope harness. Actually, that kind of thing isn’t interesting to me, anyway– maybe if I were skinny and more of a submissive type. Still, he put kind of a friendly, harmless face on what was always a taboo subject for me. He made it seem less sinful and dirty, and more about fun. In a strange way, he vastly improved my sex life without ever having known me personally. He also helped give me the courage to share my own writing online. After all, if I could read and enjoy his cornball stories about BDSM (and they really were cringeworthy in an entertaining way), I could certainly write stuff that people might like.

Tammad was an anonymous guy who had once shared a picture of himself from the early 80s in a barbarian costume. I “met” Bill a few weeks after I discovered Tammad Rimilia. It turned out we were compatible, in all of the ways it matters. Besides being super easy to talk to and very attractive to me, he also liked my fiction. Although we instantly had chemistry, we were meeting through the computer and not in the vanilla areas of the Internet. It took awhile before I felt comfortable enough to meet Bill offline. But you can see where it led me twenty years later… I could thank a lot of anonymous people for helping me get together with Bill, but I would probably start with Tammad Rimilia. His was probably the first presence I encountered from the “less vanilla” part of the Internet.

I wish I could thank Tammad now for putting a friendly face on that world… which I’ve kind of left since those days. Unfortunately, Tammad died in a car accident on November 20, 2000. I remember the day I got the news. I was in my second year of grad school, studying first year social work; the year previous, I had done public health. The semester was about to end and we were preparing for exams. It was also my niece’s 8th birthday. Someone had posted on Tammad’s site that he had passed away at just 42 years of age. I was shocked and, to be honest, kind of sad. I’d never even met the guy, yet his life made a difference to me. He was so young to die and, I know, maybe people had been touched by him the way I had. It was even stranger to think I’d never met this guy or even interacted with him, yet here I was sad about his death… Here I was even knowing about his death. The Internet has, in some ways, made the world a little smaller.

Last night, Tammad’s memory popped into my head. I hadn’t thought about him in ages. I went looking to see if he still had a presence online, even though he’s been dead for going on 19 years. His site has been taken down, although I know some of his friends maintained it for awhile. Someone else has preserved some of his writings. I found myself reading, of all things, his article about how to insert a butt plug. I have never used one myself– my exploration of BDSM is really just that, and purely academic. However, I would imagine that if one were interested in learning how to properly use such a device, Tammad’s article would really be handy. I would much rather read clear, concise instructions written by a safe, sane, slightly goofy guy like Tammad, than have some crazy, sex-obsessed jackass shove one into me and tell me to shut up before he gives me something to cry about.

Anyway… it occurred to me that whenever you put something out there for public consumption, you never know how it will come across. I have heard from some people who don’t like what I have to say… but I’ve also heard from many more people who love my blogs. Whenever I think about how I fell into this Overeducated Housewife lifestyle instead of a career, and lament that I won’t be passing on any genes when I die, I remember that some people might remember me by these random posts. Maybe even nineteen years after I’m dead, someone will remember something I wrote or recorded. Who knows?

In the early days of the Internet, people used to refer to offline as “real life”. I don’t really hear it described like that anymore. Online is becoming “real life”, as real as anything offline, anyway. I met my husband online at a time when such a meeting was still considered weird and “novel”. Had it not been for the World Wide Web, I might be a profoundly bitter spinster living in the Deep South. I’m still kind of bitter and perhaps somewhat unfulfilled, but at least I’m not living alone, watching Divinyls on VH1, and reading smut to make the time pass. Thanks to Tammad for that.

Some good news…

My cousin writes that yesterday, my Uncle Brownlee got another try at the swallow test and did well enough that the staff brought him dinner. He was able to swallow some pureed food and drink tea from a straw.

Hopefully, he will be taken to his home tomorrow, which I know will make him feel a lot better. He’ll still be on hospice, but he no longer appears to be knocking at the pearly gates. Looks like he’s going to make it to his next birthday after all. He will be turning 78 next Friday, the day after I turn 47. Like me, Brownlee is a musical person. I have many memories of being accompanied by him playing his organ and listening to him play with his band, The Flames. He really is talented… plays entirely by ear. Passed on his musical genes to his son, Justin, who is a professional musician in Nashville.

I got bored yesterday at about 4:30pm, so I asked my friends to give me a song to sing. One person asked me to do “Walking on Sunshine” or “My Favorite Things”. To be honest, I never really liked the infectious pop ditty “Walking on Sunshine”. Even when it was a hit in the 1980s, it got on my nerves, probably because it was always on the radio. Then years later, it became a staple of commercials. I miss the days when jingle writers would come up with original song hooks rather than recycling pop songs like “Walking on Sunshine”. Much to my surprise, SingSnap only had one version of that song anyway, and it wasn’t a particularly good one.

I decided to try “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, instead. It turned out pretty decently, although I shared the first version. I probably could practice it and make it better, but time was getting short. I like to do my recording before Bill comes home. I was further inspired by Julie Andrews, so I gave a stab at the duet, “Something Good”, and even scored a couple of good male partners.

Speaking of jingles and pop ditties… yesterday, while I was watching old episodes of The Price is Right, I took notice of the jingles. There was one for Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza (blecch) that had a very distinctive male voice. I was suddenly jolted back to the 80s for a moment as I remembered that voice was on so many commercials back in the day.

Jake Holmes… sang this and wrote the lyrics to this jingle, as well as so many others back in the 80s!

In the course of finding out who was singing the jingles, I learned that Jake Holmes is also the real composer of the song “Dazed and Confused”, made famous by Led Zeppelin. For many years, they never gave him any credit; Jimmy Page was listed as the composer. Holmes finally sued years later, and now gets a nominal credit… “inspired by Jake Holmes”. Shitty! I lost a little respect for Led Zeppelin after reading that, especially when Holmes contacted the band and they rebuffed him.

No… this was NOT written by Jimmy Page!
Looks like he made a nice living singing jingles, though…

He also did that infamous Army “Be all you can be” jingle I referenced the other day. His voice reminds me a little bit of the late Glenn Frey’s. Just a little bit, mind you.

A classic!

I could probably sit here all day and listen to Jake Holmes’ jingles from the 80s. It seems like they don’t make ’em like this anymore, although I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I was last subjected to American television. In a different world, maybe I would have followed a similar path, like the late Ukrainian American singer, Kasey Cisyk. She was famous for this jingle.

What a voice! Hard to believe she made her career in jingles! And she was also the original singer of “You Light Up My Life”, which was made famous by Debby Boone. Kasey’s version was in the movie by the same name.
Lovely… and Didi Conn did a great job lip syncing it to make it look like she was singing it.

Well… it’s Thursday, which means it’s time to vacuum. I hate vacuuming more than any of the other chores I do, but at least when it’s over, that means the weekend is coming. Hopefully, my uncle will continue to improve and we can have him around for a bit longer. He truly is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve been thinking about him all week. When he does depart this life, it’ll probably hit me a lot harder than when I lost my own father.

Old school…

I had kind of a rough night last night, which involved getting up repeatedly thanks to a certain monthly nuisance. I woke up cranky and kind of mentally fuzzy, since I didn’t get the best quality of sleep. Sometimes I have topics on the brain as soon as I get up. This morning, I didn’t really… even though I finally resubscribed to Hulu and watched the most recent episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale.

So I did what I always do when I don’t have a topic to write about. I went to YouTube and promptly found this episode of The Price is Right from 1981. I was eight years old when this episode aired, on April 22, 1981. I remember watching The Price is Right was a special treat, since it aired at 11:00am on weekdays and I was always in school at that time. The Price is Right is probably my favorite game show of all time. I think it appealed to me because there were so many different games. I had a short attention span when I was a child, so that format and the variety that came with it was very attractive to me. That, and I enjoyed the corny music. On this episode, they even used the Family Feud theme song for one of the prizes, a really tacky, tricked out van.

Bob Barker was hosting the show in 1981. At that time, he’d been on The Price is Right for 8.5 years. He would continue to host for another 26 years before handing over the show to Drew Carey. I’ve seen Drew’s version of The Price is Right and I think he does a good job. I also like that they stopped only offering American products. In Barker’s day, one could only win American cars by Chevy, Ford, Pontiac, or Oldsmobile. But you can win a Mini Cooper on Drew Carey’s version. Since I have a Mini, I like that they can now be won on TPIR. They’ve also updated the models and the music. I’m kind of sorry they updated the music. I loved that they kept the same groove for so many years during Barker’s reign.

I’ve heard lots of stories about how Barker was on the show. Supposedly, he sexually harassed his models. But, as a host, he was the consummate professional. He knew the big wheel so well that he almost always could tell where the spin would land. I’m sure that was frustrating for the contestants, as Barker would announce the score and get it right 95% of the time, even before the wheel stopped spinning. He handled people so well; always thinking of something to say and saying it in a friendly way, even when people did dumb things. In the 80s, Johnny Olsen was the announcer before he died.

I think what I enjoyed most about this episode were the ads, which the uploader kindly included. I remember a lot of those ads, because back in the those days, I was addicted to TV. During this particular broadcast, they even had a “test” from the Emergency Broadcast System. Back in the day, networks would periodically have these tests to train people to know where to get information in the event of an emergency. Nowadays, we have so many ways to get informed, but back in the old days, TV and radio were where it was at. The EBS system was replaced by the Emergency Alert System in 1997. I love the cheesy ads they had, too… some of which were for products that no longer exist or will probably be defunct very soon (Sear’s fashions, anyone?) and pitched by long dead people like Tom Bosley, who used to sell Glad trash bags.

One person commented on the video that his grandmother was Keely, who won the first prize. Keely was quite a looker in 1981. I know that was 38 years ago, but it doesn’t seem so long ago to me. I remember that time well, even though so much time has passed.

The Price is Right also reminds me of Granny’s house. I don’t really know why, since it was rare for me to get to visit her at a time when that show would be airing and I would be able to see it. There was something about the music, the cheesy prizes, and madcap games that reminded me of being at her house, having fun with my cousins when we weren’t fighting amongst ourselves. I’ve been thinking a lot about those times lately, especially as my Uncle Brownlee is entering his last days. Granny’s house, after all, is now his house. For awhile, my dad was even buried there. My mom eventually had him moved to the family church cemetery, since she probably realized that this would eventually happen and the property might no longer be in the family’s hands. My Uncle Brownlee, by the way, made the wooden box my dad’s ashes were buried in.

I’ve always been a nostalgic person. I love watching old TV, listening to old school radio and music, and looking up old news or old people I used to know. About the only old school stuff I don’t enjoy is some of the clothes… especially 70s era clothes. Actually, I’d probably toss in 90s era clothes, too. But give me an article about disgusting casseroles from the 70s, embarrassing toys or snacks from the 80s, or misleading ads from those days (Wonder Bread and Hostess Cupcakes are “wholesome and healthy”? I don’t think so.) and I am happy as a clam in high water.

Well… I’m feeling slightly more awake now. We tried to get rid of a futon and grill today. The futon was picked up by the trash people, but they left the grill. Bill is going to be annoyed about that (ETA: the grill was picked up later). I’m going to finish the laundry and maybe take a nap, if my body doesn’t keep waking up to go to the bathroom. If not, maybe I’ll read some old school porn or something.

Underoos are fun to wear…

Something funny happened last night. I discovered yet again how my thinking is extremely tangental. I went from wine, to old movies, to old TV shows, to underwear in the course of a few minutes. Here’s how it happened.

I posted in my food and wine group about some Italian wine we were enjoying and a group member shared a picture of the white wine she was drinking. We were marveling about how easy it is to find good, inexpensive wines in Germany… well, really, in Europe. She finished her comment with a “Zum Wohle!”, to which I responded:

“Atta girl…” Drinkers unite!

I noted that you have to be a certain age to get the above reference, a clip from the 1980 film, 9 to 5. I was eight years old in 1980, and I saw 9 to 5 in the movie theater. The other lady was 6 in 1980, and also saw this movie in the theater. Incidentally, this was the second incident yesterday in which I commented that you have to be a certain age to get the cultural reference. Another friend made an oblique reference to an 80s era Army recruiting ad when she posted about her bagel making business. I told her I hoped she was “being all she could be”.

“Hey First Sergeant! Good morning!” Bill says that would never happen… First Sergeant would probably make that guy do 50 push ups, then bitch out the guy’s superiors. I wouldn’t know, of course. The Army isn’t my vocation. I’m just a “dependa”.

After a few comments about 9 to 5, I remarked that Mr. Hart’s mansion in 9 to 5 was also used in the old 1970s TV show, Wonder Woman. (and it was also used in Murder, She Wrote and a bunch of other shows and movies)

I wasn’t living in America, nor was I old enough to enjoy the original version of the show, which aired on ABC for a couple of years starting in 1975. The first version of the show was set in the 1940s and had Wonder Woman fighting the Nazis. In one episode, Wonder Woman ends up being “detained” (read tied up) in a mansion. It was the same one Mr. Hart “lived in” and, in fact, was also tied up in on 9 to 5. I happened to notice it last year, when for some inexplicable reason, I binge watched all the episodes of Wonder Woman, then watched 9 to 5. Gee… what a kinky mansion that was back in the day!

I didn’t get hooked on Wonder Woman until the late 70s, when the show became The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and was moved to CBS. It aired every Friday night at 8:00pm and was set in the “present day”, circa 1979. Wonder Woman’s costume changed. She traded her silver bracelets for gold ones and wore slightly different star spangled bottoms. Now that I’m older, I think I like the World War II version of the show better.

I was 6 or 7 years old and I thought Wonder Woman was the absolute shit! I liked her so much that I had a used Wonder Woman doll– it was actually pretty lame. I think I got it at a yard sale. The one pictured at the top of this post is the kind I had and, in fact, looks about as well loved as mine was. I also had a pair of Wonder Woman Underoos. I hope to God we bought those brand new. Actually, I’m pretty certain we did, since I remember the cheesy plastic packaging they came in, complete with cardboard backing.

This commercial is burned on the brain.

I remember being so excited about my Wonder Woman Underoos. Then I opened the package… and they were kind of yucky. They were made of cheap polyester and only the front was decorated, at least on the girls’ version. The back of the Underoos were white, which really kind of ruined the fantasy. I also didn’t like wearing camisoles/undershirts, especially polyester ones that were clingy and hot. I probably should have gone for the Supergirl or Batgirl versions.

Looks like the boys’ version was better. At least the backs of their t-shirts weren’t white. I bet Wonder Woman’s Underoos were the best selling of all of them. Everybody loved Wonder Woman back in the day.

While I didn’t really like the Underoos to wear under my clothes, I did like the idea of wearing a costume. I had a very fertile imagination when I was growing up, and while I did have a few neighborhood friends, my best friend was a boy. It’s funny… that’s been a recurrent theme in my life. Most of my best friends have been males! In any case, since my best friend back then was a boy, I was left to play Wonder Woman in my Underoos by myself. I’m pretty sure he had Incredible Hulk Underoos. He was a fan of the Hulk.

Anyway, one Saturday evening in 1979, I was up in my bedroom in Fairfax, Virginia. I was alone and, I guess, really bored. My parents were throwing a cocktail party for their friends and I had been relegated to my room to play. I started playing Wonder Woman and put on my Underoos, which didn’t quite transform me into the superhero. Besides being short and kind of petite as a little girl, I also had short, golden blonde hair. But I did have red knee socks, which I figured could substitute for the knee high boots I didn’t have. I also had a florescent yellow hair ribbon that I figured I could use as a “golden lasso”. I had no golden tiara or magic bracelets, so I imagined those… and I pretended the back of my Underoos were like the front.

My favorite version was season 3’s, even if the plots had really jumped the shark.

I guess I must have felt like the neighborhood could benefit from my crime stopping efforts, because for some very strange reason, I decided to run downstairs in my Underoos and introduce myself to my parents’ friends. I leapt from the stairs and twirled around. I remember my mom was mortified as I paraded in front of her guests in my polyester Underoos, pretending to be Wonder Woman.

“JENNIFER!” my mom bellowed, absolutely horrified, “For God’s sake!”

I suddenly realized I was in big trouble and instead of retreating to my room, I ran outside. I’m sure the neighbors were amused to see me practically streaking across our suburban lawn, my parents yelling at me the whole time. I don’t remember how their guests took my little interruption. They probably thought it was hilarious, especially if they were drinking… which they most assuredly were. Aw hell, it was just innocent, clean fun… Remember, I was maybe 6 or 7 years old! Maybe this incident is why I don’t have issues at German spas.

Cathy Lee Crosby’s 1974 version of Wonder Woman can’t hold a candle to Lynda Carter’s T & A version.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after I flashed everyone at my parents’ party. I have a feeling I couldn’t sit down comfortably for awhile afterwards. I look back on it now and realize it was probably quite funny to those who weren’t my parents. I don’t know why I never got involved in drama. I probably missed my calling in yet another area. That’s me… embarrassing and annoying people since 1972.

She’s back…

For years, I’ve followed Recovery from Mormonism, a messageboard for people who have left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have never been LDS myself. My husband was a Mormon convert when we met, and his daughters are still LDS, although I get the sense that Ex and his remaining brood might have fallen away from the church somewhat, now that it’s no longer a good parental alienation tool.

RfM is an interesting board. There are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent, and funny people posting there. There are also a lot of hateful, angry, and abusive people there, some of whom have traded their religious zealotry for new obsessions. I’ve made a few legitimate friends from that site, people I don’t know personally, but have connected with online.

Several years ago, people on RfM were “obsessed” with a blogger named Janis who writes a blog called Lilpeasinmypodfromgod. She was noticed, not because of her blog, but because she also posted on Babycenter. Ex Mormons found her posts there and cabled them to RfM, where she was discussed quite often back in the day. She was homeschooling/unschooling and had a huge brood of kids. Then, she decided homeschooling/unschooling wasn’t good and sent her kids to school, later complaining that they were behind in their studies. She also embraced “paleo” eating for awhile, citing her tendency toward diabetes. I don’t know if she’s still paleo, but I remember she and her family bought a farm in Oregon and moved there from California.

Janis is bright, pretty, and has an interesting personality, but many people on RfM thought of her as “crazy”. She got mentioned a lot on RfM for awhile and her blog was frequently linked to the site. At one point, Janis even became LDS for a short time. That’s when the Mormons and ex Mormons really sat up and took notice. She got a lot of attention from active members, who I’m sure would love it if that large family full of kids went LDS and provided new potential tithe payers. Then she gave up Mormonism and even hung out on RfM for awhile. Then she kind of went “fundie”, but eventually gave that up, too. Janis often wrote that she had been raised atheist and seemed to want some kind of religious grounding for her ever expanding family. But her religious pursuits seemed to lead to dead ends.

I occasionally read Janis’s blog and I’ve written about her before. She’s a very intriguing person who seems to be perpetually pregnant, yet manages to maintain a really nice figure. I see by her most recent postings, she recently had a baby after having lost one who lived about six weeks. I don’t know why her second to last baby died. I would assume it was something like SIDS that took him, but I honestly don’t know.

It looks like she might have edited her blog somewhat, although it could just be that I don’t feel like going through all her old posts. If you do a Google search for “Janis” or even “Crazy Janis blogger”, you’ll find that a lot of people find her interesting. Seriously… I have lost count of how many children she has (ETA: based on my earlier post, it looks like her most recent baby, Fynnick, is number 10– I wrote about Fynnick’s brother, Finnley, in the last post. Sadly, Finnley has passed away).

Janis’s husband got a vasectomy at one point, but I see in her recent posts that he had it reversed– not once, but TWICE! Having seen Bill go through a reversal, I know what is involved in that. It’s not an easy thing to endure. I guess their case is one reason why I’m not the biggest fan of permanent birth control, although I know some people don’t have any desire whatsoever to procreate. To clarify, I’d say it’s something one needs to be very sure of… If you have the slightest urge toward potentially procreating, don’t opt for permanent sterilization. On the other hand, I’ll be very frank when I say that getting a vasectomy after eight kids is quite reasonable. Janis’s husband must be some kind of a saint to have two reversals, especially after having already fathered eight children. Wow.

I see from a little research, she had another blog that didn’t last, and I remember at one point, she changed the name of her blog to “Still Hot With A Lot”, but that didn’t seem to go over well. So she changed it back to “Little Peas In My Pod From God”. I see she kind of went out of fashion, probably because she stopped writing regularly. Maybe she’s experienced kind of what I have, since I moved my blog. For a long time, I didn’t get many comments. Then, as the blog got more popular, I started getting more readers and more drama. Although the narcissistic side of me loves the idea of having readers and being “popular”, the more sensible side of me appreciates that the people who read my stuff now and folks who are actually interested and followed me regularly. There’s less drama on my new blog, and that is how I like it. I guess if I had ten kids– nine of whom are still living and one of whom has autism– I’d have little time to write, too. And I guarantee I’d have no time for drama that comes from people who get offended.

Anyway… I’m truly sorry for Janis that she lost her baby boy last year. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone. I’ve always kind of liked Janis. She marches to the beat of her own drummer, doesn’t seem to care what people think of her, and is basically a really good sport. I may not agree with her lifestyle choices, but I respect her for having them and being courageous enough to write about them.

Speaking of babies… I’m told Bill’s daughter will be induced on July 9th. That’s the anniversary of my dad’s death. Her husband is still job hunting, but they seem to be doing alright for now. I know Bill is looking forward to having a granddaughter, even though he hasn’t seen his daughters in fifteen years. Maybe he’ll get a chance to go out to see his daughter and his grandchildren soon. I don’t know if I’ll go with him. Maybe… depends on when it happens. I won’t do it on a major holiday.

This means war…

I learned something new today. For the longest time, I thought the quote “This means war.” was all about Bugs Bunny. Actually, it was originally said by Groucho Marx in a movie called A Night at the Opera.

I probably ought to spend more time watching the classics.

Before today, I thought A Night at the Opera was just a Queen album.

I should also spend time listening to the classics.

Like this film starring David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich…

Her last film. Before I saw this clip, “Just a Gigolo” was just a David Lee Roth song. It’s also a 1978 film featuring a less 1985 version of that classic song…
I’ve always loved this video. David Lee Roth is hilarious. Alas, he’s now old…
And when people play Van Halen featuring David Lee Roth, they don’t even recognize him anymore. Maybe he should have worn chaps.
Incidentally, all chaps are “assless”. They’re meant to cover one’s legs, not substitute for trousers.

This is a really silly post, because I can’t think of anything to write about this morning. Maybe I should read the news. I could be back later.

The $61 steak…

Last night, while we were enjoying wine with our neighbors, Bill reminded me of a funny experience we had with my Uncle Brownlee. The year was 2010 and we were living in Georgia, not too far from the Atlanta area. On Bill’s birthday, in July, we visited Craft Atlanta, which has now closed. Craft is a chain of expensive restaurants started by the great chef, Tom Colicchio. They are usually in major cities. I’ve only been to the defunct location in Atlanta and its more casual sister, Craftbar, which is also closed.

In 2010, we were still fairly broke. We had just moved back to the United States from Germany, and Bill was still paying child support for his youngest daughter. A visit to a restaurant like Craft was a real treat. We usually only went to nice restaurants for my birthday, but that year, I told Bill I wanted us to go out on his birthday that year. He chose Craft Atlanta.

I’m glad we had the chance to try this restaurant before it closed!

I remember I had duck for dinner, and it came with family style sides of creamy mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and roasted asparagus. Bill hesitated when he saw what he really wanted… a delectable rib eye steak that had been dry aged for 28 days. The price was $61, which was more than he’d ever spent on any entree at a restaurant.

Although the price gave him pause, I encouraged him to order it anyway. He did, and I noticed our waiter looked very happy. I’m sure it mostly had to do with his getting a bigger tip, but I also had a feeling he knew that steak would put a huge smile on Bill’s face. Sure enough, it did. It was probably the most delicious steak either of us had ever had. And, better yet, we had plenty of leftovers!

I just did a search to see if I posted about that meal on Facebook. I found this thread, which is not as exciting as it could have been.

I know I also took some pictures, including the one featured at the top of the posts. These were the days before I wrote restaurant reviews, except for the odd one on Epinions.com, which did not allow pictures.

Anyway, in November of that year, we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving. We were talking about Bill’s special birthday meal with some of my cousins. Uncle Brownlee happened to be sitting in the kitchen, passively listening to me describe Bill’s dinner while he held up the newspaper to read. When I mentioned how much the steak was, he dropped the paper and gave me the funniest, most profound WTF look ever… His mouth dropped open. His brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. It was almost like I said the f-word in front of my Granny or something. He was shocked. I wish I’d taken a picture of his face at that moment. It was classic. Brownlee is a very “salt of the Earth” type of guy. He’d never spend that much on a steak, no matter how good it is.

Bill tried to explain why the steak was so expensive, but Brownlee wouldn’t hear it and thought it was ludicrous that we’d spend so much on a piece of dry aged meat. He’s always been practical and frugal with money. He’d probably rather spend his money on a Hammond organ or building supplies for his next project. I used to love watching him work on his construction projects. I remember he’d find cast off supplies like old doors, cables, or odd pieces of wood and he’d turn them into something beautiful and functional, as if by magic. He also taught himself to play the organ by ear and was good enough to play in bands for years. I used to sing with him accompanying me at the Natural Bridge Hotel. His old friend, Donnie, who played saxophone and sang, would join us. Donnie died on Christmas a few years ago. I was really sad to hear about his death, too… also very sudden.

I haven’t heard any more news since yesterday. I talked to my mom last night and filled her in on what I knew about this situation. She doesn’t use computers and refuses to have anything to do with the Internet, so she wasn’t aware that Brownlee had had a setback. She did say that when Brownlee saw my dad in his final days, he’d made it very clear that he didn’t want his life to end that way and was not interested in life supportive measures that wouldn’t lead to recovery. I really can’t blame him. It’s highly unlikely that Brownlee could still keep doing all that he’s ever loved doing, even if they did everything they could to keep him going. I suspect that being an invalid would be more than Brownlee could bear.

It was heartbreaking for me to see my dad like that, tethered to many machines and hearing alarms blare with even the tiniest movement. All of that intervention was ultimately for naught, and cost a mint. Dad had managed to survive health crises before. He’d even had a feeding tube for awhile and although the doctors bluntly told my mom he’d never improve, he did improve for awhile. At least physically.

But when my dad had his gallbladder operation and couldn’t recover from the anesthesia, it was clear that his body had finally had enough. My mom asked the medical staff to disconnect everything and let my dad go. He didn’t want to go. He made it plain that he didn’t want to die by trying his hardest to keep breathing. Mom had to tell him to let go, which he finally did. He passed away peacefully, with an amazed smile on his face.

I love this house. Brownlee has done a wonderful job making it what it is. He did most of the masonry and built the railings on the steps. That big tree in the front yard was planted when my Aunt Jeanne died in 1995.

I think it’s going to be very hard for my family when we lose Brownlee. He lives in the family homestead– the house my father grew up in and the cornerstone of my memories of my whole family. I don’t know if his wife will be willing or able to maintain it. Her son– my cousin– is a professional musician in Nashville. Her daughter lives in Roanoke and has her own career. My aunt has her own health issues to worry about. But it really is a stunning, magical place. I love visiting there. It’s been too long since my last visit.

The other side of the property. There are two creeks that intersect. Up the hill is the barn, where we have parties.
A rare snowy day in November.
The road that runs in front of the house is named after my grandfather.
Wish I could move in there myself. I love the sound of the creek when I’m going to sleep. It’s hard to believe that my grandparents rented part of that house for a time. I think someone from our family has been there since 1935.

Anyway… I meant for this to be more of a lighthearted post than it’s turned out to be. I guess I really miss home. I continue to pray for peace and comfort for my loved ones.

Dear Loren…

It’s Friday, and I’ve had a bit of a sad week. I just found out that one of my beloved uncles may not be around for much longer. He is truly one of my favorite people, but I haven’t seen him since 2014, which is when Bill and I were last in the United States together. I had gone home to Virginia to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and participate in a memorial service we had for my father, who died in July 2014, weeks before we left for Germany. My mom chose Thanksgiving as a good time for my dad’s memorial, since that’s when the annual family reunion is held.

My uncle had a stroke last week, and it has left him severely debilitated. I didn’t find out about the stroke until a few days after it happened. I found out about it on Facebook, courtesy of a friend of the family, rather from one of my actual family members. My cousin just posted that they’ve decided to give my uncle comfort measures and, I guess, let nature take its inevitable course. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable decision at all, but I am blue about it. Like I said… he’s one of my favorite people. His birthday is the day after mine. He has a witty sense of humor like mine. And like me, he loves making music, being in the mountains, and drinking beer (although he’s always stuck with Miller Lite).

But… I realize there’s nothing I can do about this situation from here. As sad as this is, death is a part of life for everyone– even the best people. So, instead of waxing poetic or praying for a miracle, I’ve decided to write about something I find quite funny.

I probably wrote about this guy on my old blog. I’ve just now done a cursory search to find out if I have, but Blogger is so wonky now, and won’t give me all possible results. I started writing my old blog in 2010, but if I search Blogger, I won’t get anything from before, oh, 2016 or so. It’s annoying, and I have over 3000 posts on that blog, which makes trying to find old stuff very difficult. So… if I have written about this before and it’s a rerun, I apologize. I just need a good laugh, for several reasons besides the impending death of a loved one.

Meet Ben Ryan Metzger. In fact, you may have already “met” him. I first became aware of him about ten years ago, when Bill and I were living in Germany the first time. Back then, I read a hilarious blog called Psychotic Letters From Men. The blog, which was discontinued just a few months after I started reading it, was about psychotic overtures of affection or spite delivered by jilted men. Some of the stories were creepy. Many were hilarious for all the wrong reasons. People were sending videos, social media posts, and emails to the blogger, who would repost them with funny commentary. I’m sure it was very embarrassing for the perpetrators, but it was also comedy gold for looky lous like me.

Anyway, Ben Ryan is quite the hunk…. or at least he was in 2009 or so. Two years before he was blogged about on Psychotic Letters from Men, he had a traumatic breakup with a girl named Loren. Apparently, he was so broken up about losing Loren, that he decided to make a video for her entitled Lost Love Story. Here it is, in all its cheesy glory.

Wow… this all seems pretty pointless. He’s probably made some YouTube bank, though. At this writing, his video has over 2.7 million views.

I have watched this video more than a few times. Every time I watch it, it makes me cringe anew. However, if there’s one thing Ben Ryan can take some heart in knowing, it’s that his cheesy love story has inspired so many people. I know I’ve written about him before. I’ve seen several music videos/parodies posted on YouTube paying special homage to Ryan’s “love” for long, lost Loren. This one is especially catchy. You can even dance to it.

I love the syncopated percussion in this. It sounds like it’s saying “dipshit” over and over again.

In fact, I think I might even enjoy this horrible little song more than the movie video, mainly because the sheer crappiness of the singer’s vocals suit the lyrics so well. The person who wrote the lyrics really captured the essence of Ryan’s “love story”, which is a study in pure narcissism. I also love the nasty synthesizer, which gives this song an especially cringeworthy quality that really suits this number and its subject matter. I mean, yeah, Ben has an impressive body, and he might even be a nice enough person, but I think he’s more in love with himself than with Loren, who appears to be nothing more than a possession to him. Maybe he was just really immature when he decided to make this video, but to me, it seems more about him showing off his muscles by tossing hay bales and boulders and moving tractor tires than expressing true love for a girl.

What the hell does riding a quad bike have to do with true love?

I just came across this video, supposedly by Loren’s friends, who claim that it really was a true love story and they were broken up by Loren’s parents, who didn’t want her dating a “poor farmer”. I have no way of knowing if what this person says is true or even if they are actually friends of Loren’s and Ben’s. Maybe their account is truthful. Maybe Ben is really just a swell guy. But his original video sure seems to tell a different story.

Truth or fiction? Don’t know.

I read somewhere that Ben had designs on becoming the next Captain America. He writes in his description that he produced this film entirely by himself, yet that obviously can’t be true. Someone had to film him, right? And of course, he used music. Most notably, he used “When I See You Smile” by Bad English. Actually, it was Bad English that made me think of Ben today. A friend posted Bad English’s 80s era video and it reminded me of this cornfest.

Well, I hope Ben and Loren have managed to go on living after this tragic death of a romance. I see people have had mixed reactions to it. Some people think it’s a heartwarming video. I remember more than a couple of people saying they thought Ben was a hottie. Other people think it’s creepy, corny, or just plain weird. I’m just glad it’s still around to make me laugh when I need a good one.

Hope everyone has a delightful Friday and an even better weekend.