Road Rage, In Which I See a Man Spit on Another Man

It was just a simple traffic error at a four-way stop: The van in front of me pulled out a little when it was really the silver car's turn to make a left in front of him. The van stopped, allowing Silver Car to go, but Silver Car was mad. Silver Car blocked the intersection, stopping right in front of VanMan. For a moment, we all sat there. And then we sat there and sat there and sat there.

VanMan started jerking his shoulders and chopping the air with his hands. This was sign language for Hello, my good man! I believe it might be prudent for you to move your automotive unit from the intersection and allow the good people of Orlando to drive through. Okay, that's the British version. I'm not allowed to use the words he really meant.

Silver Car did not like the sign language. The driver's door opened, and a short older man with furious eyebrows came out yelling. Again, I'm not allowed to use those words, but I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

He stalked around the car up to VanMan's window and got right in his face. VanMan buzzed his window down. I know VanMan was a little shaken, because even though he was yelling back, he recoiled from SilverMan.

SilverMan had white hair and was small, but he looked powerfully built. He was not feeble. He kept yelling at VanMan. He started to walk away, then he turned around and spit right at VanMan.

As he walked to his car, he glanced at me. I suddenly realized I had my hands to my mouth and my eyes were wide and shocked. His eyes shone with anger. I was like No! Do not look at the woman in the gold van. She didn't even honk at you!

SilverMan hopped back into his car and sped off, with VanMan right on his tail. I just happened to be going the same way, and I saw that VanMan was now on his cell phone. Was he reporting this guy for battery? I don't know, but it was a good performance in any case.

At one point, they slowed down and pulled over to the side. I thought they were going to duke it out, but no--Silver Car went straight, and VanMan turned left.

It was quite an exciting drive.

Just Me and Cheese, Tidbits from the Grocery Store

Writers are often advised to sit in malls or other public places and eavesdrop--you know, get a feel for what real people say, maybe even write some of it down.

Here's what I overheard at the grocery store:

Man: Just me and cheese, that is my desire. Me and cheese.

* * * * *

Man: C'mere! Look at all this yogurt! They have cherry, strawberry, banana--you can have any flavor you want.

Kid: I want this one.

Woman: No! You'll just waste money.

* * * * *

Kid: Mo-om! He scratched me.

Woman: What is the rule? What is the rule?

* * * * *

Woman: Horseradish and mayo . . . horseradish and mayo. [Okay, this one was me. I tend to recite my list out loud once I've relinquished my mind to the grocery store zone.]

* * * * *

Kid: Hey, Mommy--

Woman: I'm not buying that.

* * * * *

Man: We spent Thanksgiving at my mom's. She did the cookin' and I did the peelin' the potatoes.

* * * * *

Man: Paper or plastic?

Dolly Parton's Here! (In the Sidebar, Anyway)

Dolly Parton is performing "Sleigh Bells Ring" in Summer Friend's Clip of the Week. Just scroll down a little. I couldn't find any live versions that also had good sound quality, so just imagine the perky Dolly Parton as she moves us into the Christmas spirit.

Other news:
For those of you who may have lost sleep over this, the Battle of the Bands is over--The Monkees won.

Also, I tried to make it snow on Summer Friend and ended up zeroing out my blog! Can you say "insta-stress"? The template I'd downloaded couldn't be uploaded and I spent a very long time rebuilding it.

But I'm back. Regular posts resuming tomorrow.

Black Friday, Green Thursday

Don't look for me at the mall. I will not be there.

Green Thursday is not a Gore-inspired phrase--it describes me yesterday. I was sick! I never made it to the Thanksgiving table, which was out of town. Sleep was the balm that soothed, and I awoke just in time to catch MY FAVORITE HITCHCOCK MOVIE, Rear Window.

It's been years since I've seen that film. Who knew Jimmy could be such a charming rogue? The only thing I didn't like, which I hadn't noticed before, was when Grace Kelly's character was being thrashed by Raymond Burr and she calls out "Jeff!" "Jeff," and instead of returning her shout, LB Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) backs his wheelchair to hide in the darkness. I know his leg is broken and all, but I would have liked to see him make some kind of attempt to help her, maybe shout back and fall out of the wheelchair as he tries to get up. (I know he called the police, but that was before the thrashing began.) BTW, the cast on his left leg supposedly jumps to his right leg halfway through the movie. I never caught the switch.

Then I watched Mean Girls. Tina Fey is such a good writer and I like how loyal she is to all her SNL comrades. One thing I noticed about Mean Girls is that even though it's a contemporary film (2004), technology played no part in it. Nobody was texting. Nobody was emailing. Nobody was using cell phones. Surely one compromising picture would have been snapped via cell phone in all that meanness. (There were two three-way calls, but I wouldn't call that new technology.)

I have to conclude that Ms. Fey left technology out on purpose. Perhaps she did so to prevent the movie from becoming dated--technology moves faster than fashion. Maybe viewers are more lifted out by old-fashioned technology than they are by plaid pants.

How much technology is safe to include if you want your story to have a long shelf life? That's a hard question. Even texting lingo has changed over the years. What's your opinion?

Tidbits from Sunday's Paper

So I've just now sat down with yesterday's paper. Here's the news:

The Off Key Krooners are looking for volunteers. Finally! A musical group who would appreciate my talents.

People with bigger noses do not have superior smelling abilities. I'm sure we can all rest easier knowing this important controversy has reached its end.

The paper is running a read-along using the book The Cricket in Times Square. Who can resist that title? I've got to get this book.

More dog books on the scene--one sounds a bit like Marley and promises to be just as heart wrenching: Good Dog. Stay by Anna Quindlen.

A woman is being sued over comments she made in her blog.

I'm innocent, I tell ya! It wasn't me, it was some other blogger, yeah, I ain't no stoolie, I won't snitch.

Be careful, my cyberspace friends. But if they do throw you in the pokey, contact me immediately--I know how to bake cakes with files inside.

HEAD, the 1968 Movie Featuring The Monkees, and Battle of the Bands

I recently watched Head, the 1968 movie featuring the Monkees. Man, talk about weird! The movie is comprised of vignettes strung together in an odd way that makes sense and leads to the ending. Jack Nicholson cowrote the screen play. This movie is not for everyone--there are clear drug references and the fragments give the movie a weird, dreamlike quality. For me, the movie was strange and literary. I'm still thinking about it.

If you like all things sixties/seventies, if vintage is you, if you use words like dig and groovy, this movie is for you. Head intrigued me enough to Google it. When the movie first came out in 1968, it failed, but it has a strong cult following, even now. Proof: Cameron Crowe used the Porpoise Song to close Vanilla Sky, the 2001 movie featuring Tom Cruise. The Porpoise Song also closes Head.

Check out the Porpoise Song in my new sidebar feature: Clip of the Week (scroll down a little). But before you go, please leave a comment and vote in Summer Friend's first ever Battle of the Bands: The Monkees VS Smash Mouth, performing "I'm a Believer."

The Monkees

Smash Mouth

Important News from People Magazine

I generally don't comment on news, but I saw a piece on my Yahoo! page that I simply couldn't ignore. This breaking news story arrested my attention--I even watched the video. Maybe you did, too.

People has announced their list for Sexiest Man Alive! I was glad to see my man Johnny Depp on board and Brad Pitt, too, not to mention the world's biggest sweetheart, John Stamos, but where was Owen Wilson? Where was Adrian Paul of Highlander fame? I feel an injurious oversight has occurred over there in the People offices.

Maybe they want to give Owen a paparazzi break, but how could anyone compose such a list without placing Adrian Paul in the top five? His character, Duncan MacLeod, is half of one of my top favorite TV couples: Duncan and Tessa, and Jesse and Becky (Full House). In fact, I had hoped Adrian (yes, we're on a first name basis) would snag the coveted James Bond role (which went to Daniel Craig). He's so perfect for that type of role: elegant, good-looking, English, and he's an excellent swordsman. Plus, if he'd been given that role, I would finally be able to attend action movies.

If it were up to me, and husbands were excluded, I'd give the crown back to Johnny Depp. I loved Gilbert Grape and Edward Scissorhands and Dead Man and the first Pirates of the Caribbean. Runners up would be Adrian Paul, Brad Pitt, John Stamos, and Owen Wilson. In that order.

And that's the news.

Nonverbal Cues, and Why I Don't Play Poker

After weeks of subsisting on energy drinks and rice cakes, my body's been craving fresh fruit or vegetables, maybe even a tomato, which I hate, but that's how strong the craving's been.

I lucked out tonight, pulling into a fast food joint that I didn't know had salads. Pre-made, but still, Gorgonzola, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and vinaigrette--what else do you need? Maybe one of those corn bread rolls. I love corn bread.

Leaning toward the cashier, I asked, "How much--"

"The corn bread comes with the salad," he said.

My jaw dropped. This guy was a mind reader. "How did you know I was going to ask that?"

He laughed. "You kept looking at the pan!"

Nonverbal cue! Body language!

Let me rewrite the last part of the scene:

I lucked out tonight, pulling into a fast food joint that I didn't know had salads. Pre-made, but still, Gorgonzola, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and vinaigrette--what else do you need? Maybe one of those corn bread rolls. I love cornbread.

I tilted my head, searching the pan for the biggest roll. Then a different server moved in and swiped the last few. Oh man! The pan was empty.

It's way to early to run out, I thought. They have to make more. I looked up and scanned the menu to see how much a roll cost. Corn bread . . . corn bread . . . corn bread--couldn't find it.

Leaning toward the cashier, I asked, "How much--"

"The corn bread comes with the salad," he said.

My jaw dropped. This guy was a mind reader. "How did you know I was going to ask that?"

He laughed. "You kept looking at the pan!"

Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve (in this case, my stomach)! This fast food worker reminded me once again of the power of nonverbal cues. It's amazing how much we reveal without uttering a word. We can lend this sort of impact to our characters, make them real actors, not just talking heads.

In any case, I always give myself away. I blush easily and startle with a big shake and a Whoop! Don't even ask me to play poker. I know better.

Wax Paper Kazoo, and You Can Too!

I made the mistake this morning of introducing the low technology kazoo: wax paper held against one's lips.

Me: So here's how you do you it. [Holds wax paper to lips.]

Him: Let me try! [Takes the piece I hold out to him.]
Oooooooooo! [Rattle, rattle]

Me: Hahahahaha!


Me: Haha!

Him: Oooooooooooooo! [Dances around kitchen.] OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


Him: [Prancing like a sprite.] OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Me: Maybe you should go in the other room and do that.

Him: [Hears only a Charlie Brown teacher voice. Keeps leaping around kitchen.]

Me: May you should--


Me: [Eyes jingle in head. Picks up wax paper.]

I Snag An Interview With A Big Celebrity's Posse

I snagged this interview some years ago when I was in college and fulfilling a journalism requirement. Here's the 411:

How Now Brown Cow?

The biggest celebrity at recent fairs in Central Florida did not speak to anyone or sign autographs.

Elsie the Cow, Borden’s 850-pound public relations mascot, had her own booth at the Central Florida Fair and the Winn Dixie Festival of Foods, both held last March in Orlando.

At the Festival of Foods, people stopped when they saw her. Some argued whether she was real or not, and others said they didn’t know cows had horns.

“A lot of kids like to touch her,” Lewis Rayburn, Elsie’s handler, said. “Lots of old-timers who’ve all milked cows like to see her.”

Although many people smile when they see her, Rayburn said he is often reprimanded by animal lovers who think Elsie’s life is cruel.

They needn’t worry.

“She lives a penthouse life,” Rayburn said.

Elsie is bathed and soaped down everyday, according to Rayburn. Her hooves are painted with black shoe polish and her horns sanded and painted with clear lacquer. She wears a golden chain around her horns, travels in an air-conditioned trailer, and takes about two month off each year.

Her home is in Columbus, Ohio, but she spends winters at a private farm in Orlando. Rayburn said Elsie likes to pass her time on the farm walking in pastures, getting dirty, and acting like a regular cow.

But don’t get the idea that Elsie is a cow of leisure. According to Rayburn, Elsie makes more than 300 appearances a year—visiting hospitals, walking in parades, and appearing at fairs and festivals.

During her Orlando appearances, Elsie stood or sat quietly in a lace canopy stall as passers-by admired her.

There’s only one thing Rayburn doesn’t really enjoy about working with Elsie.

“I usually catch it with a bucket or a shovel,” he said.

“Then I spray Lysol.”

My HDR and TV are Almost Restored! Sunday Night TV (Spoiler Alert!)

My television and HDR have been down for several weeks. I’ve barely missed them. In fact, during the day, I haven’t missed them at all, my rule against daytime TV being such that it is.

But I’ve missed three weeks’ of Saturday Night Live, Desperate Housewives, and America’s Next Top Model. It’s been horrible. At night, I’ve been doing housework instead of sitting on the couch with ice cream and entertainment. This is not my idea of a good evening (although I will say the laundry is caught up).

I finally got the big idea to catch up on these shows through their websites. NBC doesn’t provide full episodes of SNL, and the CW site didn’t stream well for me, but I did get all caught up on my Desperate Housewives Saturday and wouldn’t you know it—serendipity! Live TV worked Sunday night!

With great joy, I scooped my ice cream and moved to the couch, ready to be entertained. Instead, my housewives made me cry. [Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!] When Lynette found out she didn’t have cancer, she walked out to the back yard in shock. Just as she looked upward and you could feel that sense of unburdening, she spotted the dead animal in her yard. Dead from the poison she left out. (I really did like the symbolism earlier with the air rifle.) I couldn’t tell if the animal was the possum or a dog—my screen colors are not quite right. In the same episode, Bree’s daughter gave up her baby. Excellent acting, Joy Lauren (Danielle).

So then I watched Brothers and Sisters. I do not normally watch this show (it's good, BTW), but my TV is in the condition where one must actually rise from the couch, walk across the living room and manually—manually!—change the channel. I wanted to watch something funny but I didn’t feel like getting up. [Spoiler alert!] Calista Flockhart’s character had a miscarriage.

Ah, man! Not the note I wished to go to bed on. I will be so glad when my HDR is fixed and I can get comedy on demand. I’m hoping everything will be working by Thursday so I can watch 30 Rock live. If the next episode is as good as the ones on the website, I’ll be adding it to my HDR.

Death and Resurrection: The Plastic Pink Flamingo

Although real pink flamingos aren’t indigenous to Florida, I’m pretty sure the plastic ones are. When I first moved to the Sunshine State, plastic pink flamingos graced many yards, always in multiples of two (being sold only in pairs). I thought they were kind of funny. I liked their pink color. I bought a pair.

Union Products, the company that manufactured these popular birds, ceased the PPF production on this day in 2006. But don’t reach for your tissues—HMC International has purchased the copyright and original plastic molds, and the Plastic Pink Flamingo shall rise once again (or at least be stuck in ground on its metal wicket legs).