Monday, October 29, 2007

Like Shoo Bop Sha Wadda Wadda Yippitiy Boom da Boom

Well, that was one of the more interesting things I've ever tried to type. I was going title this post something from the song "Jesse's Girl." Easy to type, but alas, nothing really applied. Because you see, this weekend my friend Katie had a birthday. She and I first became friends back in the second grade. Our childhood consisted of multiple trips to the roller skating rink, pretending we were Trixie Belden and Honey Wheeler, song and dance productions to Grease and Xanadu in her living room, and belting out "You Light Up My Life" at my piano. Along the way we made friends with boys. One of them was named Dustin, and even though we were pretty sure he had cooties, we enjoyed his company and making fun of the fact that he came from a strange and far-off land called Ohio.

Katie moved when we were in junior high, but Dustin and I stayed friends through high school, college and now that we're supposedly grown ups. Nine or so years ago (yeesh!), I was in graduate school (in that strange and far-off land called Ohio) when Dustin called to play a game I like to refer to as "Hey, guess who I saw at the mall / a concert / a restaurant from grade school / high school / that marching band trip we took to Six Flags in 1987." He likes to play this game because I never know who he's talking about. "Hey, guess who I saw at the mall?" he said. "I don't know," I replied, rolling my eyes and starting to rifle through a box of photos from the late '80s, looking for the stack from Six Flags to try and get a head start. "Katie!" he shouted. Finally. I got one.

He gave her my number and the rest is history. Well, not quite... A couple of years later she married Dustin. (Yeah, I know, Nora Ephron could have a field day with this story...) I got to be the best person at their wedding and am Godmother to their oldest son, Eli. She and I tell him stories about wearing our pajamas and singing into hairbrushes like they were microphones - or when we formed a Go Go's tribute/lip sync band - when we were just a little older than he is right now. He and Dustin usually just shake their heads in embarassment, but I'm pretty sure that their newewst additions, John and Finley, are ready to follow in our footsteps.

And speaking of shaking your head in embarassment... I thought I'd share a couple of photos. Photos that were taken with a Kodak Instamatic (ca. 1978) and a Kodak disposable camera (ca. 1999), respectively, and then scanned into my computer many years later. I think you can still figure out who's who though. Coincidentally, she just forwarded me an email about girls that grew up in the 70's that was awesome (I still have my Marie Osmond doll, do you?) and I may post later when I have time to upload all the fab pictures.

From my 4th or 5th(?) grade piano recital (the devilish grin and bunny ears would be Katie; the messy hair and giant Chicklet teeth are all me):

Yes, we're sober...

And 20ish years later at her wedding (slightly less devilish grin, and look, my head finally caught up with my teeth):

No, we're not sober...

Happy birthday, Katie. Please don't hurt me for posting these. We need to update this line of photos though or else the next similar picture we take will be of us in rocking chairs without any teeth. And well, probably not sober....


Well I guess ESPN got most of their money's worth. No Spurrier victory in the UT / SC game, but at least they got an overtime out of it. At some point, in the throes of heat stroke this summer maybe, I got rid of cable. Now I don't technically get ESPN. I do, however, get a pretty clear black and white ESPN without any sound - and you've always got the closed caption if you're desperate. Had I not been afflicted with some mystery virus and almost passed out in Lowe's earlier that day, I would have gone somewhere to watch the game. Desperate, I was.

My plan was to rest on the couch while watching it on mute with the radio for play-by-play. That worked well for the first half and our 21 unanswered points. The dogs obliged as I made Elsie sing Rocky Top. Well, she doesn't actually sing, but is trained to raise her paw at the "woo!" part. When she's not trying to ignore me for humiliating her with stupid pet tricks, that is. Oliver did cheers. He needs to make some use of those gangly front legs of his and spelling out V-O-L-S works nicely. (My mother also has a Basset Hound named Ray Charles that my brother will hold up and use his paws to make the referee hand motions. We're very talented.)

But anyway... full of confidence, I gathered a stack of magazines and some tea and settled in for the second half. Bad idea. SC's 24 unanswered points of the second half resulted in the exact opposite of what I would call restful. Instead what I WOULD call it is me throwing magazines, flailing my arms around, knocking my tea over and yelling "WHATTHEHELLYOU'VEGOTTABEFREAKINKIDDINGME"

The poor dogs thought I was yelling at them. Well, Elsie did and put herself in "time out" in the mud room. Oliver kept sleeping. Thankfully we tied it up in the last few seconds and then won in overtime. It came down to SC's poor kicker who apparently had made something like a 60 yard field goal in the pregame warm-up but shanked the one that would have put us into double OT. Poor guy. I really do feel bad for him and the rest of the players. Not just because if you compare the stats, they totally out-played us, but because I'm sure Visor Boy made them all feel even worse in the locker room. (You know why he wears that visor, don't you? It's because ball caps won't fit, what with the little horns he has hidden under that toupee on his head.)

I'm glad we got the win, regardless of how much stress it caused my household. Unfortunately it means more idiotic comments from sports writers and commentators like "Vols control own fate" or "Vols in charge of their destiny." ("Um, hello, Sports Writer, have you met Dictionary? You two should really chat.") This week hopefully will not be a replay when we take on LA Lafayette. It's only on the radio or pay-per-view and I will be out and about most of the day. The dogs are very thankful.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Helpful Hint

Dear Coaching Staff, Players, Trainers, Water Boys and Girls:

When you get to your desks on Monday, please take out a Post-it note and write down the following: "The University of Tennessee Volunteers are a SECOND HALF team."

Now, please stick that to either your refrigerator, computer monitor, or forehead.

Thank you,


Go Dawgs Go!

Friday, October 26, 2007

"This would be a huge coop, people"

Friday's "The Office" Re-cap & Football Preview

Ok, "The Office" wasn't fabulous last night, but it was still good and quotable. And apparently "The Office" Convention is going on right now at the University of Scranton and Al Roker went to cover it.

How cute is this?

Al Roker's day in ‘The Office’
Al Roker's day in ‘The Office’

This week has kicked my ass, so that's all I've got. And as far as football goes, I don't even have the energy to go into the details of tomorrow's game. Or document all of the reasons I loathe Visor Boy. Or how I can't believe a once-likable team like South Carolina could have such questionable hiring practices. Instead, I'll focus my end-of-week animosity toward someone/thing else...

Dear ESPN:

Last Saturday you wouldn't give one of the most historic rivalries in college football the time of day, presumably because both teams are a bit on the mediocre side this year. Fair enough, I suppose.

This Saturday, however, you plan to broacast our game against the Gamecocks despite the fact that South Carolina is in the mediocre boat right there with us. So what's up?

Could it be that this is the best game you could get for that time slot? No offense to my boys in orange, but I seriously doubt it.

Or, could it be that you're banking on Visor Boy beating us again and if it happens you'd like it to be on your network?

Call me a suspicious, glass-half-empty, conspiracy theorist, but I'm guessing this one is a little closer to the truth.

And you wonder why our collective state hates you?

Love from the trailer park,


Monday, October 22, 2007

Candy Corn is a Gateway Drug. And Other Weekend Epiphanies...

My Weekend:
Football. It wasn't enough that our game wasn't on national TV like it normally is/should be, or that we had to play the "brunch game" at 11:30 (How can you be expected to get a respectable amount of tailgating accomplished before kick-off?). But then our defense and special teams had to just lay on the field like roadkill. Grrrr... At church on Sunday one of my favorite people (Ned) and I had a heart-to-heart about the state of Volunteer football ('cause that's what you talk about in church on Sunday in the South) and he articulated perfectly what my subconscious has known for a while:

Good-hearted, honest, loyal, kind, supportive people don't always make the best coaches.

It breaks my big orange heart, but it's true. I LOVE Phil Fulmer. There's no better example of a Tennessee Volunteer. He LOVES our state, our school, our team and each and every one of those players and coaches like they're his brothers and his kids. But lately it seems that love and devotion have become blinders, and promoting too much from within, being too slack with young guys who need more discipline, and sticking too much with tradition instead of trying new things on the field, have started to take it's toll. To every yin there's a yang and we seem to have reached the yang portion of the program. I'm not saying that we need to fire Phil and hire some vile, disgusting, obnoxious, rude, tantrum-throwing, snake-in-the-grass just because they win football games (yeah, that's right, I'm lookin' at you, Visor Boy). But something needs to change.

As you could imagine, about 30 seconds after the clock ran down, I needed an outlet for my misery that didn't involve chocolate, martinis, pasta, heroine or expensive shoes. So my SIL and I found salvation at the next best thing...

Target. Why? Because there were a lot of household items that I needed? No. Because - as all good people know - when the world is crazy and out of control and doesn't make any sense, you go where everything is clean and orderly and pretty and affordable. I've joked before that if I had all the time and money in the world I would go back to school to get a degree in film and my first student film would be a remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's titled, Diet Coke at Target.

"The only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there."
- Holly Golightly

So, that's not really a revelation from this weekend, but I'm right, no? We pushed our happy little red cart around until I felt better and along the way a few happy items happened to fall in said little red cart: adorable black tweed ballet flats, a pre-treatment stain stick thingy, dog treats, cereal, a frozen pizza, yogurt, diet coke (duh) and yet another bag of...

Candy Corn. Ahhh candy corn. I don't really even like candy (all other dessert-related items, yes, but sugary candy, not so much). Like crisp, cool air, changing leaves and college football, those cute little striped kernels are a sign of fall, my favorite season. But, alas, they are not without a dark side. I was snacking on candy corn Sunday evening while organizing kitchen cabinets and with every bite I slowly started to feel that sense of dread. You could almost hear the screeching of the violins from Psycho tuning up in the background... that impending anxiety... THE HOLIDAYS. And like candy corn, I love the holidays, but they too have a dark side. There's so many things to stress about - money, travel, shopping, decorating, entertaining, family drama, AND ESPECIALLY food. And that's when it hit me -

It all starts with the damn candy corn.

Those tiny little innocuous bits of sugary autumn goodness are fine, but all they do is give you the courage to move on to the seemingly innocuous, but actually evil, little individually wrapped trick-or-treat candy bars. And that leads to:

Thanksgiving and stuffing and casseroles and pumpkin pie and apple cobbler because what? They're FRUIT! And VEGETABLES! What's the big deal? Look - you can even see their pictures on the food pyramid. How bad could they be?!? So now you're emboldened and ready for:

Christmas. You've already been so good only eating tiny candy bars and fruits and vegetables that you eat the cookies and cake and other things you couldn't otherwise justify. Besides, if all else fails, you just have to ask,"WWJD"?!? Because I tell you what he would do - it's his birthday! He'd eat the cake. And before the sugar high can wear off, there's:

New Year's Eve. Otherwise Dick Clark would have been out of a job a long time ago because everyone would be too depressed to leave the house. But we're not done yet. You can't have sugary without salty, so to cap off the holiday season, God gives us the first of two National Observances of Salt:

New Year's Day College Football Bowl Games (and then later the Super Bowl). Chips and dip and laying on the couch, taking the stress of the last few weeks out on referees and the teams that are keeping your team down in the BCS poll. Good times.

Is there a Halloween Candy Wing at Betty Ford?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is it Whoever or Whomever?

After two mildly disappointing first episodes of The Office this season, my favorite show on TV is finally back to normal with last week's and this week's episodes. I don't know how they are able to make me laugh hysterically, cringe in embarassment and then completely break my heart all in the span of a few minutes. And I didn't think they could top a conference room scene like last week's bouncing DVD icon, but this week with the "whoever / whomever" discussion was one of the most brilliantly written and acted scenes I've seen on that show.

Other Genius Moments:
- The whole Pam / Michael opening shtick about the movies. "Meryl Streep is the bad guy. You never see it coming." "Million Dollar Baby. He's gonna try to kill me."
- Shrute Farms. Pam immediately calling to make a reservation from two desks away. Mose running along beside the car. The irrigation room. Dwight's Dundie Awards on the mantle. Dwight reading Harry Potter to Jim and Pam. (If you go to Trip Advisor you can really look up Shrute Farms).
- Daryl to Kelly: "You need to get a hold of the not-crazy part of yourself." Kelly: "Daryl Phillbin is the most complicated man I've ever known. Who says exactly what they mean? What kind of game is that?"
- Andy supposedly moon-walking past Angela's desk 10 times and then wondering why she still won't go out with him.
- The whole Jim / Dwight scene in the stairwell and Dwight playing "You Give Love a Bad Name" on his recorder out by the dumpster.

And don't even get me started about the whole Jim / Pam storyline. I don't know who was more swoon-worthy last night Jim or Dr. Shepherd.

Which brings up another point... Why is the majority of TV the rest of the week complete crap and everything I want watch on all at the same time on Thursdays? NBC is must-see TV on Thursday. NOT ABC. It's how God intended. It's like one big conspiracy to get me to buy TiVo. I think I'd like to speak to whomever is in charge of programming at ABC... or is it whoever...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


For those who may not know, this Saturday is the Tennessee / Alabama game, a.k.a the Third Saturday in October. Their first match-up was in 1901 and I believe it was a tie. And I also believe that was probably about as amicable as the game has ever been. Regardless of how good or how crappy either team happens to be that year we're all but guaranteed a great game - or if nothing else - a good old-fashioned bloodbath. The object of the game at this point isn’t really who wins, it’s just who has the most players left standing by the end.

The year I was born began our longest losing streak to the Crimson Tide and for the whole first decade of my life I didn’t know what it was like to “Beat ‘Bama.” That is, until October 16, 1982. On that day Alabama was ranked #2 and picked to beat us yet again, but a long touchdown pass and a last-second interception changed all that. I don’t have a lot of memories from that day but I’ve read enough and seen enough replays to create them in my mind: Willie Gault running into the end zone in all orange; the orange and white UT in the middle of the field; John Ward’s “And the crowd. Goes. Be-zerk!”; fans rushing the field. But what I do legitimately remember is that it was my very first feeling of being part of something bigger than myself. Vacation Bible School had tried and failed several times to accomplish this, but pulling one over on that nasty old bastard, Bear Bryant, sure did the trick. If I hadn’t known since birth that I was UT fan, I’m pretty sure that at the age of 11 at the dinner table that night I would have declared myself to be one.

And there are other games we can’t forget either. The good: Peyton Manning breaking another Alabama streak in ’95, 41-14. Or beating them again in ’97 when we listened to parts of the game on the radio... standing around a parked car... at a wedding reception... with the mother of the bride... who made her daughter wait until a time out to throw the bouquet... The bad: our fourth quarter loss on a fumble that added insult to an already injured season. The ugly: 5 over-times (but we did win) or three years ago when two rude Alabama players warming up on the field in the middle of the Pride of the Southland nearly caused a riot.

These days we don’t always get to play the game on the TSIO, which is just wrong, in my opinion (Is nothing sacred!?! What’s next, Thanksgiving on a Tuesday!?!). Or, we have the new issue of CBS – for the first time in oh, twenty years or so – deciding not to televise the game. They’ve opted instead to gamble on the chance at a flashy upset of Kentucky over Florida. And I understand that there’s money involved. And yeah, neither of ours teams has been on a grand winning streak the last few years, but if NBC can still televise Notre Dame games with a straight face, this really shouldn't have been that difficult a decision. But whatever. Karma will come back to bite you in the ass, CBS. Just you wait. As for me, this Saturday I'm sure I’ll check in at some point to see if Kentucky has maybe – hopefully – won, but for the most part, my ass will be firmly rooted in tradition and in front of the TV watching the Vols vs. the Tide. So what if it's on UPN/Channel 30. Yeah, that's right! We're the Lincoln Financial Game of the Week. No shame in that! On commercial breaks I may keep an ear out for General Neyland turning over in his grave, but I still say GO VOLS!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pretty in Pink

First, thanks to Katie for my first comment! I figure that if anything I write here comes close to being as entertaining as her blog, I'll be doing ok. Hers will also be the first in my list of blog links on the right side of this page - when I finally get around to doing it, that is - but for now, just go to if you'd like to check it out. I highly recommend.

Second, here's a bit about my weekend adventure in Atlanta. I travelled south on Friday to pick up my mother and step-father at the airport on their way back from Italy (yes, I know, they suck); visit my friend Amanda, her baby, husband and dog; drive A LOT - or as my grandmother would have said "all over hell and half of Georgia" (which would actually apply in this case); and visit the trifecta of Stores-Nashville-Should-Have-But-Instead-I-Have-To-Go-To-Atlanta-For: Nordstroms, Crate & Barrel, and The Container Store (you could also add IKEA in there too, but we just couldn't squeeze it in this time and well, I have no hope of Nashville ever getting one so it shouldn't technically go on this list).

The Mother-Ship (or as I also like to call it:
Crack House for the Compulsive Organizer)

Most importantly, however, we went to cheer on my aunts, Jean and Lynn, as they participated in The Breast Cancer 3 Day: a 60-mile walk to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. I even purchased a pink t-shirt just for the occasion. And getting me to wear pink is no small achievement (You should have seen my face a couple of years ago when "pink was the new black." It was not a pretty sight. But I digress...) They began their walk at a mall in Alpharetta, GA on Friday and we were able to find our way to one of the cheering stations on Saturday before they arrived. People were there lining the sidewalk, clapping, waving pom-poms, holding up signs and high-fiving the walkers as they came by. Many of the walkers wore costumes (tutus, halos, butterfly wings, etc.) or funny t-shirts - even the volunteers and officers got in on the festivities as we saw a policeman with a bright pink wig on directing traffic.

On Sunday, the walk ended at Piedmont Park in downtown Atlanta. Joining us was our friend, Neighbor Jane, who is a breast cancer survivor AND did The 3 Day Walk in California a few years ago (and is my mother and Tom's next door neighbor in case you're wondering what kind of parent names their child Neighbor). After circling various business and residential areas around the park looking for a parking space and having a man scream obsenities at me (I have very little patience in general - even less for people with unleashed pit bulls, especially if they're keeping me from finding a parking space) we finally made it there. And, somehow by the grace of someone, were able to get our chairs set up in the shade and with a perfect view of the stage, then haul our behinds to the other side of the park in time to see Jean and Lynn cross the finish line, then pick up their luggage and drag it back to our chairs just in time for some water and a snack before the closing ceremonies began. Don't ask me how we managed to accomplish all of this.

The closing ceremonies began with an introduction from someone on stage as the 2,500 particpants entered into the arena in front of the stage - arm-in-arm, six people across - and formed three rings inside a giant circle. First, the walkers on the outside - women in white 3 Day t-shirts, men in grey - followed by the crew of volunteers in various colored t-shirts in the middle ring, and then finally the survivors in pink t-shirts in the very center. I had been running around, taking pictures and wiping what was probably a combination of sweat and tears out of my eyes as the survivors entered the arena. From where I was standing, I couldn't get a very good picture of them coming in so I turned to try to get a picture of everyone that was already standing in the arena area. I was looking at the screen of my digital camera and trying to determine what was going on because the tiny view looked a little odd. I looked up to try and figure out what was going on and saw a sea of shoes. The walkers, in one enormous circle surrounding the survivors, each removed one the shoes they were wearing and held it in the air to salute them as they entered. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye to be found anywhere around me.

I don't know where exactly Jean and Lynn were in that big crowd, but we managed to find them afterward AND get them and their luggage out to the car, as well as make it back to their house and eat dinner - all before 9:00 that night. The next day they were still able to walk and have inspired me to (maybe) join them next year. I'll have to think about it though - I may have purchased a pink t-shirt especially for this weekend, but I don't know that I can afford - or stomach - three days of pink clothes. And I've already warned my mother, who also wants to do this next year, that I will NOT be wearing any wacky outfits or hats. And look, now it's in writing!

In addition to the amazing feat (or feet, ha ha) of walking 60 miles in three days, my aunts together raised just under $6,000, in honor of - and in memory of - many of their friends and relatives who have suffered with breast cancer. Two of them include my grandmother, Gene Shipp, who died in 1989 and my step-grandmother, Patricia Hardin, who passed away in August of this year. I know they must be very proud right now. Me too.

Jean (l) and Lynn (r) as they crossed the finish line on Sunday

Thank you to all of my friends who donated money - it really means a lot to me.

Click here
to see more pictures from the event.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cast of Characters

I don't know that much more needs to be said about me - at least for the time being - than what's in the "About Me" section already. And Lord knows I don't feel compelled to post a picture of myself... so let's move on, shall we...

I share my home - a very small 1930's cottage - with two lunatic canines. And while I'm not the kind of dog owner that refers to herself as their "mommy," I'm sure I talk about my dogs, Elsie and Oliver, as though they're my children way more than my friends with actual children appreciate.

But I will have to say that living with my two dogs - as much as I do love them - IS a lot like living with two teenagers. Elsie spends a good bit of her day telling me all that I've done incorrectly, ratting out Oliver, bossing Oliver around, rolling her eyes (I swear she does this) and looking at you like you're stupid. Oliver, on the other hand, is a bit thick-headed, smells bad, just wants to sleep on the couch, is always hungry, makes a big mess when he eats and pretends he can't hear me when I call his name. Their differences in personality make for some good entertainment and I guess I'm just lucky they can't drive - although I'm convinced Elsie would try if given enough time in the car unsupervised. Here's a little more about them:

Name: Elsinore (Elsie)
Breed: Part Border Collie
Nicknames: Elsifur, Devil Dog, Frog Dog, Evil Genius, Town Crier, Wooly Dog
Hobbies: Herding (kids, cats, socks, whatever); Tricking Oliver out of his toy, treat, bed, chair, etc.
Life Goal: World Domination

Name: Oliver
Breed: Some sort of hound but with a long silky coat and big collar of white fur (and so the first of his nicknames).
Nicknames: Pimped-Out Hound, Pony Boy, Bubbles, Archie Bunker, Five-Second-Delay, Squirrel Whisperer
Hobbies: Napping in the old green armchair; Trying to get stuff back from Elsie
Life Goal: Overcome Fear of the Stopwatch on "60 Minutes"