Thursday, January 31, 2008


I couldn't think of a topic for Thursday 13. But I read an article about Starbucks in the NYT this morning and thought, sheesh, are they overrated or what? I enjoy Dunkin' Donuts' coffee, and it's cheaper (so far). That twinkly little thought led to this meandering goofy list. I even shouted out my husband for an addition, because I didn't think I could actually come up with 13 Overrated anythings, hence the gas mileage moment around the middle of my list. He's cute -- always comes down to money for my husband, which is why I love him so.

Without an organizing theme and without further fanfare... here goes:

1. Starbucks -- and I think they know it. Now offering $1 cups o' java (which includes, so I hear, free refills -- will wonders ever cease). We do just fine without Starbuck in Vermont (except those high toned college kids in Burlington have the only 2 in the state). I don't mean to get political, but how does a nation in debt have the balls to ante up for $4.50 cups of coffee and not properly armor their soldiers for war? I'm just sayin'. And yes, I have bought my share of venti eggnog latte. I'm not gonna show my complete ignorance by trying to write one of those long, OVERRATED coffee orders people shout at the counter. Sheesh. That could be another T13 list in itself.

2. Valentine's Day -- Lordy, how people get sucked into this Hallmark Holiday. I'd also like to include the other MANUFACTURED holidays: Mother's Day and Father's Day. Like my father always said, "Every day is Mother's Day." I think the same goes for the ones you love. Valentine's Day is completely out of control, as far as the major commercialism. Way overrated.

3. Gas Mileage -- those numbers on the car stickers. No way those are ever truthful. Wouldn't you think we (the American ingenuity machine) could invent a car that didn't run on fossil fuels and a fuel that didn't use fossil fuels to get made? (Yeah, that was an awkward sentence, which should show you just how pissed off all this makes me these days)

4. Algebra -- come on... you have NEVER used this since the 7th grade, have you?

5. Designer Clothes and Accessories -- If you pay $500 for a handbag or shoes, you are crazy. Period.

6. Resumes -- Do you know anybody who got a job by sending a resume to anyone? No. Usually it's who you know. As it is in most cases with all sorts of stuff. Oh, maybe I will substitute this one for #14?

7. Brittney Spears -- I cannot be-lieve I typed that name on my blog. Slap me! Just typing her name and the word "overrated" in one sentence is redundant. BUT... isn't all this hoopla over a person just OVER THE TOP. All right already! If you hadn't looked lately, Media Types, we're in an f-ing WAR where 3941 Americans have sacrificed their lives, and the number of innocent Iraqi civilians is estimated at 1 million. So, enough with the spoiled rich girl and her sad life. This also includes all the other ego-centric divas and divos. I pledge never to buy a magazine with any of them on the cover. Ever.

8. TV -- Oh, the horror! I don't watch American Idol! My life is dust on the wind. Shame. This is another one everybody has bought into, and now we who have not are oft labeled "granola eaters" or "nuts." Huh? It's one big "buy this" machine. Helllooo.... who's the sheep? Surprisingly you really can live without t.v. I've done it now for seven years. And...I'm alive to tell the tale. Wow. I especially feel smug during election season when I am not constantly subjected to ads, spin, pundits, and idiots from either side of the aisle. Thank the gods.

9. Tom Cruise -- Who cares? Actually, with all the nonsense and papparazzi hoopla surrounding his life 24/7, I think he's very irresponsible to bring a child into the world and subject her to the scrutiny she'll have to bear for an entire lifetime -- birth to death in the pages of all sorts of magazines. Maybe at one point he could act (Born on the Fourth of July) but that's a moot point now. He's jumped the shark. He's pole vaulted the shark. Heck! He's Nordic Ski Jumped the bloody Jaws shark.

10. Celebrity Pregnancy -- Please. Women have been having babies for... what? ... MILLIONS OF YEARS. What is sooooo precious about these "baby bumps"? Gag me. As if these women will be changing diapers or washing spit up out of their designer (see above) cashmere sweaters.

11. James Joyce -- I'm not bragging, so don't get me wrong here, but I made it through several advanced degrees in English without reading Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. I could add a few other pieces that I never read and I know quite a few English professors who might cop to never having read some "major" overrated works. Of course, with art, that "eye of the beholder" rule is in play. I'm sneaking onto #11 Thomas Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow. Please... it's a terrorist plot to ruin minds. Do not attempt to read it. Ever.

12. California -- And I'm a third generation native California girl, and proud of it. Still, now that I don't live in CA and merely visit, I don't miss all the nonsense and traffic. Nope. People always ask "Don't you miss the beach?" and I might, but I don't miss the hour of looking for a parking place. And driving through the heinous five lane pile ups to get to the beach. And back. No.... I am on a quest to find a secluded beach to visit. Florida? just no.

13 Vacation Homes -- I have enough to worry about one home. We used to have a vacation home, but it's so overrated. We figure that in the next 20 years we could go on one terrific month-long luxury vacation and still not spend what a beach vacation home would cost (and you gotta include all the extras: taxes, utilities, insurance, homeowners' association, and so on). We've thought about it, but no. This goes for Time Shares, which we both own and wish we didn't.

Wow... I can't believe I could come up with 13. When I started typing, I never thought I'd get a list. Sometimes (most times) I thoroughly amaze myself.

Have a nice day! (overrated greeting? yeah)

OMG... I was looking for some graphics and found this. I wish I could do a #14, because SHEE SHEE FOOD is hysterically overrated. I'm throwing the whole picture in here.


In a world where few people reach for compassion and eloquence these days, I give you a glimpse at class -- exactly the right words, timbre, and attitude for the passing of a fellow human being. Would that we were all so. I cannot imagine or remember a better tribute -- to one living or dead. Statesmen need to take a lesson.

Bravo, Daniel Day Lewis. I hope you win every award possible to win in 2008.
For more information and a thoroughly mesmerizing read, go to:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fads I Fondly Remember
"Fads are fertilizer to American culture."
- Ray B Browne, Journal of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University

This T13 was prompted by a wonderfully nostalgic article in the NYT. Link here: Silly Fads

Maybe it's just the Baby Boomers waxing reminiscent about the past, but didn't the 50's and 60's almost invent fads? No, we only think we started it all. Bathtub gin, flappers, fringy dresses -- the 20's roared and the 30's depressed (which is why we call it a recession now).

I seem to recall being swept into many fads. So many, in fact, that I had to make up categories to get all of them on the page. Or all that my frazzled boomer brain can recall. And I didn't want to be too redundant -- didn't want to be too obvious. Then again, why the heck not? Who but a Beatle nut could type that line, eh?

Okay... in no particular order, with no particular design, here are some fads I recall from my misspent youth.

1. CANDY -- SweetTarts, firesticks, Big Hunks, cinnamon toothpicks and gum flavors: teaberry, bemans, fruit stripe, sour fruit, and my fav, Black Jack (and the ubiquitous Juicy Fruit, Double Mint and Double Bubble). The thing is... we were so NOT allowed to eat or even have candy. Complete rebellion to bring this stuff to school. So, I guess candy started it all, eh? The rebellion stuff, I mean. Go figure. Rebels without a sweet. Uh huh.

2. MAKE UP -- Twiggies! Yep, using your black eyeliner (and all you have to do is get a load of Elizabeth Taylor during the 60's to see how much we relied on black eyeliner). With Twiggies, you paint eyelashes below your eyes (see insert above).

3. HAIR -- The Beatle cut was fashionable for men and women. Then came Sassoon (who is having a boon these days with the return of The Bob). I had a Sassoon Beatle cut, just like the picture above, in the circle. Oh yeah, that was tres hip.

4. TOYS -- Wham-O ruled the fad market. The hula hoop shot Wham-O to the top of the charts, and the company just kept coming up with hits. Frisbee. Slip 'n Slide. I don' t think Slinky is a Wham-O product, but everyone had one which worked for about fifteen minutes and then kinked into oblivion. Silly Putty was a big hit -- stretched, bounced, even copied from newspaper (which turned the lovely pink into a yucky gray). Jacks, cap pistols, pick-up sticks, tether ball, hop scotch -- these games were very popular in a simpler time. Even checkers and chinese checkers -- everybody had a set. Oh, duh... Etch-a-Sketch. Too obvious?

5. DANCES -- The Twist! I remember my parents bought a new stereo. But you see, the stereo was a piece of furniture. Ours was Swedish modern, like a console table with a sliding top and inside the turn table. The first album they bought was Chubby Checker's Doin' the Twist. They had twist parties with all the neighbors on our block. For us dancing began with American Bandstand, The Bop and The Stroll, but with the explosion of British Rock and all the bands, dance shows flooded the air. My favorite dances were The Mashed Potato and The Jerk. Oh, the Pony was fun. Whatever happened to dances with cool names? Or am I just so far outta da loop that I don't know.... (duh)

6. SHOES -- Too many to recall. Shoes were inexpensive. We would check out the latest styles worn by pop stars like Cher or just the dancers on the local shows. Then we would go to Thom McCan's (cheap knock-offs) and plant our noses smack against their lovely display windows. Patent leather was big -- white and black. Stack heels. Saddle shoes came back, too. And penny loafers -- I actually had a pair in 1969. I remember because my mother bought them for me and I was really mad. But then they became "the thing" and I wore them out. I wore moccasins, even to school -- squaw boots. I loved them and have tried to find exactly the style I used to wear, but haven't had any luck.

7. DOLLS -- Besides the Barbie phenomenon (and I received an original when I broke my arm in the 4th grade, about 1959). Shirley Temple dolls (I still have mine), Tiny Tears/Betsy Wetsy, Chatty Cathy (first talking doll), Poor Pitiful Pearl (found one on eBay), Trolls (my sister LOVED these), and much later, The Cabbage Patch Doll.

8. TV SHOW ACCESSORIES -- Davy Crockett and the coonskin cap (never had one but we sang that stupid song all the time); Mickey Mouse Club and the cap with ears (had one) (also sang the silly song all the time). Gidget (Sally Field) and the kerchief (yep, had one) and the bikini (yep that's were we started). No, didn't have a shoe phone from Get Smart -- all we had to do was wait for the cellphone. Who knew?

9. ROLLER SKATING -- Have skate key, will travel. Skates to fit any shoes. And the scuffed knees to prove it. Then shoe skates. Mind you... all this without polyurethane wheels. Metal wheels. Not too smooth on the blacktop. Then we removed the wheels from our old skates, nailed 'em to a board, and tried to emulate the original skateboards. The Beach Boys lived near us and my dad even taught one of the members (don't know which guy), in elementary school before the group became famous. I suppose I should have a category for "Starting a Band in Your Garage," because that was all the rage. Every guy who didn't play sports and wasn't a science geek grabbed a guitar or a drum set and tried to catch fame (and girls) making rock music. That made the girls all.... groupies? When we weren't roller skating at the roller rink.

10. CLOTHES -- Too many fads to list here, but our saving grace was sewing. A new fad would hit every other week it seemed. We'd hustle down to the fabric store, find the pattern, and make it. Bellbottoms, culottes, empire waist, tent dresses, granny dresses, Nehru shirts, and bikinis. Paisley. Madras. Kettle cloth. My sister and I were a cottage industry. I loved the short, "A" line skirts with matching vests. I had one that was yellow with white daisies. I bought a "Poor Boy" top: wide ribbed cotton, with short sleeves and scoop neck. Gosh, I thought I was Marianne Faithful in that get-up.

I wish I could find Kettle Cloth again. Have tried and tried. Ugh. Great stuff for sewing anything.

11. TRIVIAL PURSUIT-- Remember when that swept the nation? I was finally HIP. They actually WANTED "the smart one" on their team. Nice for a change.

12. BABY ON BOARD -- Fad and backlash all in one. I still see remnants of those signs. Well, we were all driving 55 to save fuel and had plenty of time to read all those yellow squares, right?

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane. What fads do you recall?

13. ELEPHANT JOKES!!! I loved these. So I'm pasting a whole lot of them on the end here. These jokes were HUGE in the early sixties. They had an irreverence, style, and pattern which mirror the times.

Q: How can you tell that an elephant is in the bathtub with you?
A: By the smell of peanuts on its breath.
Q: How can you tell that an elephant has been in your refrigerator?
A: By the footprints in the butter.
Q: What's harder than getting a pregnant elephant into a Volkswagen?
A: Getting an elephant pregnant in a Volkswagen.
Q: Why is an elephant big, grey and wrinkly?
A: Because if it was small, white and hard it would be an aspirin.
Q: Why are golf balls small and white?
A: Because if they were big and grey they would be elephants.

Q: What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants in the distance?

A: "Look, a herd of elephants in the distance"

Q: What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants with sunglasses

A: Nothing. He doesn't recognize them.

Q: What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of giraffes in the distance?

A: "Haha! You fooled me once with those disguises, but not this time!"

Q: What is the difference between en elephant and a plum?

A: An elephant is grey.

Q: What does Jane say when she sees a herd of elephants in the distance?

A: "Look! A herd of plums in the distance" (Jane is colour blind)

Q: How do you get four elephants into a Mini?

A: Two in the front, two in the back.

Q: What game do four elephants in a mini play?

A: Squash

Q: How do you get an elephant into the fridge?

1. Open door.
2. Insert elephant.
3. Close door.
Q: How do you get a giraffe into the fridge?

1. Open door.
2. Remove elephant.
3. Insert giraffe.
4. Close door.

Q. The lion, the king of the jungle, decided to have a party. He invited all the animals in the jungle, and they all came except one. Which one?

A. The giraffe, because he was still in the fridge.

Q: How do you know there are two elephants in your fridge?

A: The door won't close.

Q: How do you know there are three elephants in your fridge?

A: There'll be one waiting outside in the Mini.

Q: How can you tell that an elephant has been in your fridge?

A: By the footprints in the butter.

Q: How do you get an elephant out of the water?

A: Wet.

Q: How do you get two elephants out of the water?

A: One by one.

Q: Why do elephants wear shoes with yellow soles?

A: So you don't see them when they float upside down in a bowl of custard.

Q: Have you ever seen an elephant floating upside down in a bowl of custard?

A: No, of course not.

Q: Why do elephants live in herds?

A: To get a wholesale reduction on the shoes with yellow soles.

Q: How do you smuggle an elephant across the border?

A: Put a slice of bread on each side, and call him "lunch".

"An elephant is a mouse with an operating system"

Q: How do you shoot a blue elephant?

A: With a blue elephant gun, of course.

Q: How do you shoot a yellow elephant?

A: Ever seen a yellow elephant?!!!

Q: Why are elephants wrinkled?

A: Have you ever tried to iron one?

Q: Why did the elephant fall out of the tree?

A: Because it was dead.

Q: Why did the second elephant fall out of the tree?

A: It was glued to the first one.

Q: Why did the third elephant fall out of the tree?

A: It thought it was a game.

Q: And why did the tree fall down?

A: It thought it was an elephant.

Q: How many legs does an elephant have?

A: Four, two in the front, two in the back.

Q: Why did the elephant cross the road?

A: Chicken's day off.

Q: What was the elephant doing on the motorway?

A: About 5 mph (8kph in the rest of the world)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

Yesterday I mailed (certified, return-receipt-requested) my retirement papers. Whew! Despite the fact that I had quit teaching in 2001, after 20 years in the California public schools, signing the papers to signal the beginning of my pension created an internal shock wave. Images of desks, books, paper, pens, students, colleagues, and the halls of a school I lived in for 20 years flooded my senses. As close as yesterday is to my fingertips, as far away as Vermont to California, memories and moments are like my personal iPhoto album.

I haven't left teaching. I've evolved. Even during my life as a "teacher" in California, I never really settled for one career. I taught courses at colleges, produced workshops, led sessions at conventions, and traveled all over the state to train teachers. Today I am an English professor at Castleton State College in Vermont. AND I LOVE MY WORK.

In no particular order and with nothing but meandering procrastination in mind, here's...

1. LEARNING -- the more I teach, the more I learn. When I was studying for my master's comps in English Lit and Writing (specifically the areas of Romance, Metaphysical, British poets, and American Lit), I decided to teach those poems and pieces of lit that I would need to know. Worked like a dream. Aced the four hour exam. Had fun with my students.

2. ALWAYS NEW -- new semester, new students, new course, new books, new pens, notebooks, files, new ideas, new clothes.... One year I had the sister of a student I had taught the previous year. Same class. I get a call from the parent checking on the assignment. She was worried that her daughter wasn't telling her the truth about the work because it wasn't the same as last year. I told her that I couldn't do the class the same way every year. I'd go bonkers. I love the smell of a new semester!

3. CAMARADERIE-- Working with people who share my love of books, reading, writing, and thinking is like savoring dessert (and not just hot fudge sundaes, although that would be nice) all the time -- but with no calories.

4. PLANNING -- Lesson plans, strategies, calendars spread all over the floor -- I feel like a field marshal. Which leads to....

5. INVIGORATION -- Educators often mention that working with youth keeps us young. Maybe. I know that I get ONE CHANCE for this lesson each semester. One chance to teach parallel structure or indefinite pronouns or sensory imagery. Sure, I may have to repeat myself. But that just means I have to ramp up my delivery and find another approach. Every day is a new challenge.

6. LIGHT BULB MOMENTS -- The first time I stood in the back of a classroom and SAW a student GET IT... wow! that was a moment. He actually had a light bulb in a thought bubble over his head. I am not kidding. Those moments are treasures.

7. THE STUDENTS -- All I can say is... I have stories. Some for tears, some for laughter. Students keep in contact, or don't. I have the Christmas ornaments and refrigerator magnets and yearbooks. College is a little different, but I love the yelling across the halls and the HUGS! (yes, in college we can actually hug the students without a lawsuit... what a deal!)

8. VARIETY -- Different courses to teach. Different methodologies. I like to change. I like hands on. For example, I taught an introductory lit course last semester. I found the sophomores to be more excited by projects than writing papers. Since none were English majors, why labor over "how to write a literature analysis essay?" I listed a variety of projects including posters, art work (one young woman made a gorgeous paper mache dragon during Beowulf), and even a sword fight for the last scene in Hamlet. The final exam consisted of a series of letters written between characters from different books. What fun. I love the variety of approaches, not to mention the variety of responses.

9. ON STAGE -- Okay, I can be a ham. I love working a room. What an adrenaline rush when all the pieces fall into place. I used to train teachers. Those workshops fed my soul. I'd love to do that again. Or start a writing group that meets in my home. Maybe later.

10. FREE BOOKS -- I could not believe the stacks of books sent by publishers. No wonder books cost students so much. Oy. I'm not complaining (well, I am complaining about gouging the students). I gather the texts I don't want, trek digitally to, and upload them for sale. I know, I not supposed to do that. Tsk, tsk. So why do they send me unsolicited books? I do like when I write to the publishers and receive desk copies I really want, plus all the snazzy materials to help teach the class. That is the best part of free books.

11. USING TECHNOLOGY -- I love using the new "smart rooms" -- wow! I'm not so big on Power Point (or in my Mac version.... KEYNOTE, which is better btw). But I love being able to use the laptop on a huge screen, connecting to the internet, and even adding film from a site, like YouTube. Last semester when I was attempting to introduce Irony (oy, that was tough), I used The Onion and The Daily Show right up on the classroom's full screen.

12. THE BIG BUCKS -- ha ha ha ha ha. I cannot even dignify that with a serious face. Don't get me started. Why do pro athletes (and race car drivers) make gazillions while teachers make zilch? Tell me... how far do you get without READING? I salute those teachers of K-3. Amazing what they teach -- so many life skills! And we don't even get health insurance when we retire (I know... I just filed the papers).

13. SUMMER OFF -- Yes... everyone gets so overwrought about teachers and summer vacation. Well, we don't get paid for it. But I do love the holidays, breaks and YES, SUMMER. I had the luxury of never teaching summer school. I used the time to rejuvenate and clear my mind. The better to ready myself for the next challenge.

My new semester starts Wednesday, January 23. I'm EXCITED, like a blank green slate ready for yellow chalk. Who will transform? Who will surprise me? I can't wait!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

...for my marvelous Makeover Mood...

You know the type. Take one nerdy, frumpy, servant or savant. Whip off her glasses, de-pin the mousy brown hair, toss (and burn) that baggy green sweat suit. Then bathe in bubbles, perfume with Chanel, make-up, cut, curl, coif, drape her in slinky silver silk -- and WOW! The stunning new woman achieves whatever dream she has desired from afar. Herein I used only movies I've seen, and in no particular order. However, I gave a #1 nod to Audrey Hepburn's immortal portrayal of Eliza Doolittle, the quintessential makeover maiden.

1. My Fair Lady - the original (unless you count Pygmalion and the Greek myths, but who wants to get technical?)

2. Pretty Woman

3. Miss Congeniality
4. Grease -- Sandy takes it to another level.

5. Clueless

6. Tootsie -- okay, technically not a "woman" being made over, BUT if you really study this movie as a great piece of character writing... wow. The layers of foreshadowing, mirroring, conflict, and characterization are amazing! Well worth a writer's time to study.

7. Now Voyager -- an oldie, but a goody. Bette Davis rocks. From frump to fashionista. Why? A man, of course. Ah......we'll have to work on that, won't we?

8. American Dreamer -- I love this movie. Striving romance writer wins contest, trips to Paris, conked on head, wakes up thinking she's a character in a book -- complete with couturier makeover scene.

9. Moonstruck -- Don't you just love it when Loretta walks out of that beauty parlor and a guy whistles at her for the first time in her life?

10. Princess Diaries

11. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

12. Legally Blonde

13. Maid in Manhattan - I enjoyed this movie in a popcorn sorta way. A lot of people don't like Jennifer Lopez, but I think, with some work, she's a good comic actress. Sort of Doris Day for her time -- but with sex added.

While researching this list I read excerpts from a book that concludes as a society we are NUTS for makeovers. Want to boost show ratings? Do makeovers. Want to write a bestseller? Include a makeover. From Cinderella to Now Voyager to Princess Diaries -- we are hopefully enamored of our ability to change from the caterpillar to the butterfly -- and win the day, if not also true love.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hair Style......
I know I said I'd let my hair grow out completely before I made a style decision. My hair is so thick (and I'm NOT complaining). It was weighing me down. I needed some softness around the face and some bounce.

Isn't a new hairstyle just the thing to lift the spirits? I feel terrific today. Last night I flipped through pages of hairdo websites. My only complaint is... WHERE ARE THE sophisticated/mature/worldly WOMEN???? I mean most of these styles are for girls/teenybopper/starlets w/o brains. Oy!

I wanna be Helen F-ing Mirren, not the latest rehab/ho case.
For all of you who may not know Helen Mirren (and finding a picture of this gorgeous woman was tres deficile) -- she only won an Oscar in 2007... sheesh.
Here she is, not that I'm ready to go white/gray:

She makes me want to stick with Weight Watchers, get back to size 10, and finish writing my novel(s). You go, Helen! WOMEN... we need more clout!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Bored (board?!) with Resolutions, or even Non-Resolutions?
Me, too. What to do instead? Play some games. Here in the woods of the Great State of Vermont, the temperature has dropped below zero. Despite mounds of lovely white snow, I remain inside, cozy and warm, curling up with a blanket, a mug of hot cocoa, and a good book. However, sometimes I catch the yen to play a game. I've collected quite a few.

I've always wanted to give a party where I set up game tables all over the house. I can picture guests wandering from room to room, joining the action or sipping wine and watching. Wouldn't that be fun? Lots of finger food and snacks and yummy dessert items. Lovely aroma of caramel candles and popcorn. I know, I know. A lot of adults are hosting "wii" parties. No... I prefer human contact. Yes, I've played wii and it's lots of fun. But... give me a good old fashioned board game any time. In no particular order, and illustrated with pictures from "the internets," as our Boy King would say, here goes this Thursday Thirteen roll o' the dice:

1. Candyland. I wanted to find the "classic" original board art, copy it, and paint the whole rainbow path plus obstacles on the wall of my studio. That's how much I love this game. I remember hours of delicious play as a child in our little house (six kids and two parents in three bedrooms...oy!) in Gardena, CA, 1956-1966.

2. Mille Bornes. I received this game in the ninth grade, when I began to learn French. Mon dieu! I'm an old fart, n'est-ce que pas?

3. High Gear. I won't tell the long story. Because it's a long story. BUT.... this is the game I wanted with all my heart when I was just about over Santa Claus. I penned "High Gear" at the TOP of my Christmas list. And waited. And waited, with delicious anticipation. And for some odd reason, because we had never done this ever ever ever, my sister and I searched the house (under beds and in closets no less) for presents, before Christmas. Unfortunately, we found them, including my game. Oh, how sad. I blew my only surprise. Then my acting career began -- how to look ecstatic upon opening a gift. Of course, that little skill comes in so handy when your former husband gives you a Salad Shooter for Christmas (yes, he did; can't imagine why we're not still married, can you?). PS .... I found a beautifully preserved original High Gear game on eBay... and it is now MINE! I'm thrilled!

4. Jam Pack Jam. Just received this one for Christmas. Cranium makes it, so I expect great entertainment and fun! Object? To pack the car before everything "explodes." Just your standard, regulation vacation practice.

5. Parcheesi. I still love this old standby -- the ultimate in strategy and revenge... with a bit of luck to sweeten the mix.

6. Canasta Caliente. Playing this game, I found out that my husband is a sandbagger. What a poop. I learned canasta one summer when we were young. Our little gang would always discover the "game of the summer" or become obsessed with some activity to occupy all our free time. One summer jacks spilled over every flat surface in the house (I even pierced my foot on one... ouch!). One summer we lived through an interminable game of Monopoly. One summer found us dishing out gin rummy, even at the beach. And one summer, real canasta (with seven decks of cards). Ah....

7. Scrabble. Like you thought an English professor would leave this one back on the last closet shelf, huh? Oh please, think again. My fav. And contrary to popular belief, I don't ALWAYS win.... not always, no. Mostly. [caught you off guard with the picture, huh? Check it out. Amusing. And informative... in a scrabble kinda way] Big P.S. Yesterday I watched (use "watch" loosely, since I was taking down the xmas tree and packing away xmas decorations... you know how that goes) anyway... watched a movie, Snow Cake with Alan Rickman (I might do a T13 on him; I have such a crush!) and Sigourney Weaver. The Comic Book Scrabble scene is probably one of the funniest scenes in a serious movie (yeah, mostly serious with dark comedy moments) in a long, long time. Snow Cake hits hard in places, is mostly quirky and memorable, in an odd way. I'd recommend it, but you gotta be "in a mood" somewhere between comedy and tragedy. Oh, and if you're a Scrabble player -- you'll definitely wanna play Comic Book Scrabble asap!

8. Whac-A-Mole. Technically, not a board game. And you might even be thinking... "What were you thinking?" Started as a joke. My husband has been deviled with moles in the yard and... well, you get it, right? BUT... joke's on me. The grandkids love this game. Of course, the whacking noise makes me nuts. My husband has his revenge. Touche.

9. Yahtzee. My dad loved this game so much (NO...not the handheld electronic version...duh..although that one does wile away waiting for airplanes to depart)... My dad loved this game soooo much that he built a beautiful wooden box for tossing the dice. Rectangle, about 15x7" with a green felt liner. It's one of my treasures. Our family was pretty much into games... which is why I'm still the nut that I am about them... oh, games AND my family.

10. Spinners. Nanci McQuire, one of the Whittier Women (we all met in the dorm, freshman year, 1969 at Whittier College... and we still hangout together), introduced us to Spinners. A wildcard version of dominoes. LOTS of fun!

11. Rummikub. I like this one; Steve doesn't. Wonder who wins more often? Maybe if I let him beat me at Canasta Caliente, he'll compromise and play this once in awhile.

12. Spite and Malice. Today I discovered that you don't have to own the cute cards to play this game. Here's a link to the rules:

13. Ticket to Ride. I am dying to play this game, but so far can't drum up the roll call. The reviews are tops and it even won "game of the year," but can I get anyone to play. Bummer. My virgin game looks like a lot of fun. Players ride a train across the US (other versions include Europe and other continents), choosing routes, buying tickets and blocking other players. Doncha love a good block of the other players? Can't wait!

I like to believe our imaginations thrive when we play games, indulging our senses of competition, strategy, fun, and fairness. At our house, we don't subscribe to t.v. (via cable or antenna). We read quite a lot and maybe two nights a week we watch movies from Netflix. In my limited, controlling philosophy of life (I'm working on those control issues... I am... I am) I also like to think we are engaging our brains and connecting as humans when we sit down to play games or engage in conversant activities -- the operative word ACTIVE... rather than passively let t.v. and all that advertising and other propaganda wash over us. Just an idea.

Go. Play. Have fun! Yep. That's gonna be my New Year's Resolution.