frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Takin' A Hop on the Wild Side... Very Soon!

So I'm getting pretty excited about my upcoming trip to Honduras--especially after reading a helpful and encouraging tidbit of information about this jewel of Central America on the U.S. State Department website:

Poverty, gangs, and low apprehension and conviction rates of criminals contribute to a high crime rate, including horrific acts of mass murder. Many men in Honduras carry firearms and machetes, and disputes are often settled with violence.

Wow, I can't WAIT! Just another restful vacation in paradise for the frogg...

Hey, it can't be any scarier than my last trip out of country two years ago, which took me to... the Middle East! Haha! Fun and games for everyone!

But in spite of my fears, I actually had a wonderful time, and met quite a lot of very friendly people (who somehow never make it onto the evening news, I've noticed). In the end, the greatest disaster that (almost) befell me during my sojourn in what is admittedly a pretty hair-raising region these days had nothing to do with bombings or rioting or anything so cliche. No, for me, death (nearly) came in the guise of a (huge) semi truck that I (barely) avoided being hit by while riding a (mean) donkey (named Jack) through a Bedouin village. And that was after that same (stupid) donkey (aka Jack-Ass, by the time I was tired of riding him) also tried to do me in by running me into a cliff wall on a (very) narrow trail (high) above the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan.

Such wonderful (parenthetical) memories...

But anyway, I'm sure my trip to Honduras will be fine, and lots of fun. I'm not (too) worried. For one thing, I'm not planning on riding any donkeys in Honduras. And for another, despite my natural proclivities, I'll just be extra careful to avoid disputes.

Especially since I broke my machete last Tuesday. Wah.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Summer Is Here!

Ahhhhhh. I'm back, from a lovely Memorial Day weekend in Ventura County.

And I'd say, based on a Sunday spent BBQ-hopping (3 BBQs in one day!), a Monday afternoon lounging poolside, and my nice new tan, that summer is officially here at last!

Oh yes. I'm excited.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Call Me Crazy...

but if you are a defendant in a murder trial, you might want to rethink your attempt to kill someone while in the courtroom, in front of the judge. Even if it is a lawyer.

RAID: It's Not Just For Bugs Anymore!

Exciting news for fans of Raid insect killer! Not only does it get rid of cockroaches and ants, but it's proven effective against pesky adulterers as well!

Curses! Foiled Again...

I don't know whether to laugh or be deeply disturbed by the article I found on msnbc.com this morning, with the headline:

China Bans Voodoo Dolls, Starts Craze

My first thought was, "Wow, so banning voodoo dolls has become the trendy thing to do in China!" Which was the part that made me laugh.

Then came the following paragraph, which was the disturbing part:

The dolls have become increasingly popular among the Middle Kingdom's misanthropes and trend-conscious teens. Customers purchase a doll (pin included), attach a piece of paper bearing the name of their enemy to the doll and then stab away. Voodoo Dolls Online offers a wide range of dolls in assorted colors. "Do you want to make your enemy feel as if someone is always stalking him behind his back?" reads the caption next to a doll clad in black. " 'The Magic Shadow Killer' will thoroughly destroy his spirit." (emphasis mine)

Yikes. (But I have to admit, "Magic Shadow Killer" is kind of a cool name.)

Well, I'd be worried about the fate of most of China, except that the article goes on to reveal that voodoo dolls aren't all about hurting people. For every "The Magic Shadow Killer," floating around amongst an apparently revenge-hungry populace, there's a "Little Angel," which, according to the article, ...purportedly brings good luck and helps its owner find true love.

What a relief.

But the most intriguing aspect of the whole story, to me, is in this paragraph:

When officials first cracked down on the import of dolls from Thailand two months ago, Chinese entrepreneurs filled the growing demand by making the toys themselves, wrapping colorful yarn around wire skeletons and adorning each with a crude felt heart. The toys were a marvel of marketing: told that one doll could not be used to harm multiple enemies, the youths who bought them kept coming back for new ones as their hit lists grew in length. (emphasis mine)

Er, ok, aside from the obvious problematic mental state of Chinese youth who have growing hit lists, I'd just like to point out that these dolls don't seem hard to make. I don't mean to encourage voodoo, you understand, but it does seem to me that perople could just... well, save their money and make the dolls themselves.

Of course, logically (there's that annoying word again!), that would make it kind of ridiculous to think that the dolls have any intrinsic power, wouldn't it? Or am I way off base here?

It reminds me of that "pet rock" phenomenon that I remember from my childhood... where savvy marketers and gullible people colluded in the popularity of having rocks for pets. I don't know what made a rock that you paid for, which was packaged in a box with a little message about how to "care" for it, any better than a rock you could dig up in your garden and pet away to your heart's content for FREE, but apparently they were a pretty hot item for a while.

As were Chia pets, which really deserve a frogg files post all their own. Some day, no doubt...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Turning Away

I read two interesting, and horrible, articles today.

The first one was about a group of Mt. Everest climbers who passed by a dying man on their quest to reach the summit.

The second one was about victims of ongoing, horrific sexual abuse in the Congo.

In both cases, it seems to me, the key theme revolves around the consequences of turning away.

Because there are always consequences. And sometimes, they are dire.

And so I ask myself: What makes people turn away from people in need, or in distress? Why do I turn away? I do, all the time. I can't even count the number of occasions when I have witheld my hand. And while I could come up with any number of reasons, none of them are particularly good. Fear of getting involved in something I can't get out of, is probably at the top. Or perhaps, I am busy and in a hurry--can't afford to stop! Maybe because I care more about my own comfort, my own image, than about some stranger.

I'm not writing this to make anyone feel guilty. Goodness knows, we all have enough to feel bad about in our lives, without my adding to the burden! I guess I'm writing it because I wish I knew how to change the tide of my own consciousness, which til now is so focused on myself that I can hardly see anyone else.

I guess I'm writing about it, too, because the two articles taken together seemed to tell a story that we as a nation should heed carefully--when lives become expendable in the pursuit of a "higher goal" or "greater good," of what worth, really, is that goodness? When people are in desperate need of help, and we busy ourselves only in the matters that further our own interests, what becomes of our "moral authority"?

I hate thinking about these things. But I know I need to. I just hope it doesn't stop at thinking. Too often, that's exactly what it does.

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away

It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerised as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?


--Pink Floyd

Sunday, May 21, 2006

News

I haven't been feeling very well lately.

But on the plus side, I bought a ticket to Honduras. I'll be there June 10-17. Obviously, those dates encompass June 12, which is...my birthday! Happy birthday to me! Who knows, maybe this year will mark the start a new tradition... every year, I will try to celebrate my birthday in another country. Or at least, somewhere I've never been before.

Of course, that will put a damper on my ability to have any birthday parties in my honor and whatnot. But since I never do that anyway... I guess it doesn't really matter!

Alright, that's my news. Now I'm going to go back to feeling ill and tired, and a bit sorry for myself.

I'm such a baby when I'm sick.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Da Vinci Code Puzzle: Who Should Be The Leading Man?

I have to admit, I've been surprised at the amount of tepid reviews I've been reading of the much-anticipated The Da Vinci Code film. After reading the book, I genuinely felt that the movie had potential to be so much better. There was a lot of room for character development, since the book pretty much nixed that, and I thought the puzzles and problem-solving antics of the protagonists during a one-night race against death-by-psychotic-albino-monk would be a surefire recipe for guaranteed thriller.

As it happens--only VERY occasionally, mind you--I seem to have been wrong.

A quick glance at The Da Vinci Code page of movie-review site rottentomatoes will show you what I mean. "Average," "jumbled," "joyless," "inert" and (my favorite) "not very good" were some of the adjectives I came across in the excerpted blurbs from various articles. Which is rather a shame in a way... because the book really did keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to find out what would happen next. And regardless of whether or not you agree with the premise, or what you think of Dan Brown's literary abilities, it was an intriguing tale.

Oh well. If you see the movie, let me know what you think! I probably won't bother, because I know how it ends. Also, I have a confession to make.

I am not an uber-fan of Tom Hanks.

Don't get me wrong, I think he's a good actor--but it really does depend on the role. Road to Perdition (fantastic film), Catch Me If You Can, Sleepless in Seattle and The Money Pit were all great Tom Hanks performances, if you ask me. You will notice I didn't say Forrest Gump, and that's because I think that movie is so boring, I've never watched it all the way through. I also didn't say Castaway, for the same reason. But anyway, regardless of his cinematic successes, I definitely don't think I'd have cast him as Dan Brown's intrepid professor of symbology.

I'd have picked... well, let's see. John Cusack could maybe have pulled it off. He's charming, and very good at acting like a guy not quite in his element and uncomfortably aware of the fact. He's also good-looking without being gorgeous. I could see him as an academic of an obscure branch of study caught in the middle of a murder investigation and an assassination plot. Oh, and a romance-on-the-run. Can't you?

Or what about Gabriel Byrne? He could definitely be a professor-type, and would bring a level of intensity to the whole search-for-the-Holy-Grail theme. Also, he has a cool accent. But... on second thought, I think he would bring too much seriousness to the role. Too much self-loathing. He always seems to feel like he loathes himself, doesn't he? I mean, it just oozes out of his characters. It's sad, really. I'm sad for him now. Let's not cast him in The Da Vinci Code after all.

Oh wait, no one did. Well, that's good.

But hang on! Hold the presses! I've got it--HUGH JACKMAN. Sexy, smart, and incredibly straight teeth. Yes! He's the one, no doubt about it. He would have been a perfect Robert Langdon, Harvard professor. Indiana Jones without the bull-whip, pistol, and leather jacket. Er, and random sidekicks like Short Round. (Why was that kid ok with being called Short Round? He was short, but he wasn't round! How weird.)

Anyway, you can't tell me Jackman wouldn't make a good choice. Or you can try, but I will stick my fingers in my ear and la-la-la at you til you go away or come around to my way of thinking. It's the mature almost-31-yr-old in me, what can I say.

Hmmm. Now I'm all annoyed that Hugh Jackman isn't in the movie.

Well, who would you pick for the leading role in the hottest blockbuster-that-might-not-be this summer?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Get Ready To Break The Da Vinci Code!

Well folks, today is May 16. And we all know what that means...

Happy anniversary, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette!

Just kidding. I mean, it is their anniversary, but since they're kind of dead, they probably don't care that I've remembered it.

No, what I'm really referring to, naturally, is the fact that only two more days remain til The Da Vinci Code opens in theatres everywhere!

And I for one couldn't be more or less excited!!

Being the cutting-edge trend-setter that I am, I read the Dan Brown novel upon which the movie is based right after it was published--er, if by "right after it was published" you actually mean "about three weeks ago." And, since all sorts of people have already taken it upon themselves to address the thematic merit of the book, I thought I would go in a different direction, and actually discuss the book's literary merit.

Now, just give me a second, ok? I'm thinking. Literary merit, hmmm. Thinking, thinking...

Alright, alright, I admit it. I didn't think the book had much literary merit, ok? Sorry.

But in spite of not being a great novel a la, say, The Sound and the Fury, it still was a pretty good read. What surprises me, though, is just how many people actually believe the story it presents is founded on fact. I knew, of course, that there were some of them out there, but an article on MSN.com reveals the results of a survey commissioned by a Roman Catholic organization, in which (if I'm reading the summary correctly) a whopping 60% of 1,000 people who had read the book said they believed its "claims" were true.

I recently had an interesting chat with someone who would have been one of those 60%. She said the book "proved" certain things about Christianity, in her mind. And I assume one of those things would be the "fact" that the Church has wrongly denied Mary Magdalene's status as the wife of Jesus, who bore his child (or children)--since that was a big part of the book. I had not read The Da Vinci Code at the time of our conversation, but I suggested that "proof" is a pretty strong word to use for a work of fiction. I also pointed out that a lot of additional research has been done to prove that the theories behind The Da Vinci Code are erroneously founded. Her (paraphrased) answer?

"Well, I guess my inclination is to believe The Da Vinci Code." Ah. Well, of course. She would prefer not to believe mainstream, orthodox Christianity, and The Da Vinci Code gives her an easy "out"--albeit on a very shaky premise indeed.

Unfortunately for many people's inclinations, the only thing The Da Vinci Code even remotely comes close to "proving" (key word being "remotely") is the suggestion that Leonardo da Vinci himself (perhaps) believed in the whole Mary Magdalene=wife of Jesus theory. And that is hardly conclusive evidence that the theory itself is valid, is it?

Unless, by "conclusive," you really mean "based on arguably faulty textual and historical research."

Let's just examine the Leonardo claim a little more closely, shall we? One of the ideas posited in the novel is that Leonardo painted Mary Magdalene (not the disciple John, as has been traditionally supposed) sitting at Jesus' right hand in the place of honor, at the Last Supper table amongst the other disciples. So how can the "truth," so vigorously refuted by the Church over the centuries, be denied in the face of such a pictorial testimony?

Quite easily, as it happens--and without doing any pesky research, either! Was Leonardo present at the Last Supper? At a distance of well over 1000 years, how would he really know if Mary Magdalene was sitting next to Jesus or not? It's an artistic rendering, nothing more. It's kind of like saying, based on Leonardo's portrayal of all those first-century Jews as very white Caucasians, that the depiction in itself "proves" Jesus and his followers were white.

Ah, logic... It's obviously a strange, and relatively untrodden, world, isn't it.

Furthermore, it's unlikely that any women (including wives) would have been seated at the table with the men, for at least two reasons: 1) tables such as the one shown in the Last Supper painting weren't really in vogue yet in the Palestine of Jesus' time; and 2) if any women were present at the Last Supper, they would probably have been serving the men, not joining them as equals (cultural mandate!).

Of course, I am touching on only one point in the entire convoluted plot of the novel. But Dan Brown treats that point as rather a pivotal one. And despite the fact that it is a point easily contradicted even without the help of supporting research, people are taking it as incontrovertible.

Frankly, people who believe that the novel as a whole presents a factual account of Christian beliefs and history are simply too lazy--or at any rate, not "inclined"--to do the research that would show whether or not they should.

The real truth is, the book has added little to nothing of importance or even value to the realm of Biblical and theological debate, and the theories it puts forth are a pretty far cry from being infallible. The overwhelming amount of anti-Da Vinci Code books is proof, at the very least, of that.

But then again, I don't think that proving anything theologically was really the novel's ultimate goal. I think that Dan Brown is a very savvy commercial writer who knows how to move an intricate plot along while keeping the reader enthralled, and who picked a theme that was all but guaranteed to generate controversy. And we all know that controversy can be a great boon to boosting sales, of books and movie tickets. (Just look at Mel Gibson's The Passion movie.)

So I must congratulate Mr. Brown for achieving the success that he did with The Da Vinci Code. But I very much doubt he could have done it without the help of the Church.

Ironic, isn't it? Espcially if, by "ironic," you mean "full of irony."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

And You All Thought I Couldn't Cook...

There may very well be lots of reasons why the frogg is still single, but her omelettes sure aren't one of them. Mmmm-MMMM!

I'm feeling unaccountably generous tonight, so here's my award-winning recipe. Which hasn't exactly won an award, per se. But it should. I'd vote for it.

So enjoy, and don't say I never gave you anything!

"Frogg's Eggs"

Heat some butter and lemon olive oil in a frying pan. (If you want to know exact amounts or temperatures, I can't tell you. Just guess. That's what I do.)

Break 2 or 3 eggs into a bowl/cup, and whip them up with a fork or whisk.

When butter/oil in pan is hot, pour in the eggs.

As eggs are frying, sprinkle stuff you like on them--tonight, I used pieces of Dubliner cheese (feta is also an excellent choice), turkey, some Dean Jacobs bread-dipping olive-oil seasoning (parmesan and garlic), and just a tiny bit of salt. (Again, no measurements, which the frogg believes are a barrier to creativity. Cook outside the lines, folks.)

After a few minutes, when the eggs are pretty firm, flip them over. DON'T FOLD. Unless you want to. But then they will not be Frogg's Eggs, they will be someone else's. Mine stay flat. Now cook until the edges are just getting brown. I don't know how long it takes, because I don't pay attention. Then serve it up!

If you are me, you will have them with a sweet V. Sattui muscat (because that's the only white wine in the house). Of course, if you elect to have them for breakfast instead of dinner, I recommend something more traditional and less alcoholic, like, say, orange juice.

In any case, bon appetit!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Decisions, part 2

So I need to make up my mind about what to do for this Central America excursion I'm considering. Unfortunately, I am not what you would call the most decisive person in the world. I don't know if I'm the least, either, but I'm right up there.

My usual tactic when faced by making a decision that involves a) a significant life change; or b) a lot of money is to a) not think about it until the last possible second, and then make a quick choice out of sheer panic, and thus have the nagging feeling that I'll regret it later, no matter what I choose; or b) think about it from every possible angle and direction, weighing every alternative until the deadline for the decision passes, and then I can't do anything about it, because I've made my choice through sheer, determined inaction.

*deep breath*

So, yeah. You could call it a little bit of a flaw in my personality, if you like. I haven't decided what I call it.

Anyway, currently I am employing my let's-not-think-about-it tactic, mostly because I'm tired. And also because I'm trying to figure out what I'll do this weekend that won't involve any domestic duties (e.g., cleaning). I'm so good at being bad at being domestic that if it were an Olympic sport, I'd have silver. (I'd have gold if I were any good at being ambitiously competitive, but I'm not.)

Somewhere in this post is yet another reason why the frogg is still single, but I am too tired and lazy to look for it. Which might also be a reason, I guess.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Clouds

Tonight, at a friend's house, I picked up a book called The Art of Travel. Flipping through, I found the following poem by Baudelaire. It made me think of someone I used to know. It also made me feel a little sad.

But... like The Outsider, I do love clouds.


"THE OUTSIDER"

Tell me, whom do you love most, you enigmatic man: your father, your mother, your sister or your brother?

I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother.

Your friends?

You’re using a word I’ve never understood.

Your country?

I don’t know where that might lie.

Beauty?

I would love her with all my heart, if only she were a goddess and immortal.

Money?

I hate it as you hate God.

Well then, what DO you love, you strange outsider?

I love the clouds… the clouds that pass by… over there… over there… those lovely clouds!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Missing

Do you ever have the feeling inside yourself that something (but what is it?) is missing? Something you want very much, but can't put a name to. Something that you're waiting for--or that is waiting for you.

I feel like that a lot.

Sometimes, I wish I knew how to make it go away.

Another Dilemma of the Moment

I'm going to be famous for these eventually, I just know it.

But anyway, my current quandary revolves around upcoming (tentative) travel plans. As some of you may know, my brother the Woundedbug (who has embraced his pod person identity, as I can see from the sub-head on his web page) is livin' it up in Honduras and we both thought it would be rather an excellent idea if I went to visit while he was there. The only problem is the lack of appreciable amounts of dinero on my part.

So I'm trying to get creative, checking out all the travel websites, and my frequent-flier miles account, and here are my choices du jour:

1) I can bite the financial bullet and just shell out the almost-$600 for a flight into San Pedro Sula Airport, Honduras--the closest airport to my brother.

2) I can use my frequent-flier miles for a free seat to El Salvador, where my brother could meet me, and we'll just hang out there instead of in Honduras.

3) Again, I can use my frequent-flier miles for a free seat to El Salvador, where I can then hop onto a charter bus for 7 hours (after the 6 hour flight) to my brother's city.

Of course, if I were a pod person like Woundedbug, I would just saunter up to the airline ticket counter at LAX, smile winningly at the agents, and they would just be so grateful that I would honor them with the simple charm of my mere presence that they would all but force me to accept tickets for free--and probably some drink vouchers to go with them.

Because that's the kind of life a pod person leads, according to my sisterly observations.

As a normal, everyday, non-pod person human being, I am kind of leaning toward #2 right now, though the one caveat is that then I will have less than 20,000 frequent flier miles in the bank, meaning I have to start building all over again--and right now I am only 1,000 miles away from a free trip to Europe!

The third option is sort of viable, except that I'm not entirely sure I like the idea of being a woman traveling alone on a bus in Central America for any extended length of time.

So I ask you: what's an adventure-loving, financially prudent, safety-conscious, thoroughly human girl to do?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Poor G.W. Bush

I had no idea W's youth was so terribly disadvantaged. Here's a quote from the always-perspicacious presidential lips:

As a boy I never even saw a soccer ball...Where I’m from soccer wasn’t played. The sport just didn’t exist.

Somewhere, Germany is crying.

Or not.

Wyoming Welcomes Sinners!

Aside from the fact that Wyoming attracts cantankerous old ladies who get mad when movies based on their stories don't win Best Picture Oscars, it is probably a very nice place to live. Lots of open space, green grass, rivers, cowboys and other wonders of nature that seem increasingly mythological the longer I live in Southern California.

So you might want to consider moving there, if you don't already live in a place where mythological wonders abound (such as New Zealand or Mobile, Alabama). And luckily for you, Campbell County, Wyoming, is putting the finishing touches on a brand-spanking-new subdivision. Why, if you act fast, you could reserve your little piece of paradise right NOW!

In... Sinnerville.

Hey, you can't tell me you aren't just a little bit tempted. And if you do, you're probably lying. Which means you ought to fit right in! So what are you waiting for?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I Survived...

...my first piano recital in 13 years! Woo-hoo!

Ok, so it isn't the first time in 13 years that I've played in front of an audience. But it IS the first time I've performed a piece of classical music in anything like a formal setting, so I admit I was nervous. As in, my hands were literally shaking, and my palms were literally sweating. Which is a little awkward when playing the piano, because, as you may imagine, you kind of need to use your hands.

Well, I can't say I didn't make mistakes. I mean, I'd like to say that, but I'd be lying. Let's just say it could have been better, but it also could have been a whole lot worse! Considering that I only got the entire piece (three movements, Mozart's Sonata in C Major, K545) memorized about two weeks ago, I was pleased that I made it all the way through without the music.

All in all, there were about seven students, of varying ability and age. Thankfully, there were no child prodigies in attendance to play (ha) on my insecurities. Not that that wouldn't have been a privilege to hear some 4-year-old trotting out a Chopin Impromptu, but it would have been just a teensy bit demoralizing too.

One of the best players, in my opinion, was not the most advanced, not by a long shot. She had only just started learning, and she looked to be in her 40s. She played three pieces, and none of them were more than three lines, but her hand position and technique and musicality were excellent; she looked more comfortable at the keys than another girl who had been taking lessons for 14 years.

One thing that occurred to me while listening to everyone play, and in playing myself, was that the hardest thing when performing at the piano is being able to tap into the emotion of a piece, where you forget that people are watching you, where the music takes on a life of its own, and what matters is what's being evoked in the hearts of the performer and listeners. There was a boy who played Beethoven, and though he managed it well from a technical standpoint, there was little of the passion and life that Beethoven poured into his work. He got a little braver with the Gershwin, so maybe it was just nerves, but it just made me think how much more difficult it is to play the spirit of the piece, and not just the notes.

Anyway it was a fun afternoon, and educational, too; I'm glad I had the chance to be a part of the program. And while I could hardly say I turned out the best performance of my life, I was impressed that I still remembered the training that was drilled into me when I was younger: When you make a mistake, don't make a sign! Act like nothing happened, and just keep going.

And that, believe me, is a LOT harder than it sounds!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

I Could Think of Worse Ways Than Shopping to Spend My Day...

... but they would involve death. As it is, going shopping is right up there.

I hate shopping, because it makes me irritable. Especially when I don't find what I want. And it seems like retailers are in cahoots to make sure that I don't. I can imagine them all huddling in a dark alley near the Glendale Galleria on a cold, cloudy morning such as this one. "Hey," they'll whisper to each other. "I've heard news... the frogg is on the move, and she's looking for a simple, white, button-down dress shirt. We all know what to do!" Then I will arrive at the mall and every single store I go into will have dress shirts of every size, color, and style... EXCEPT white and button-down.

Trust me, it's happened before.

Still, the time comes when, like it or not, I have to do some shopping. And today might be one of those days. Which is why I am still lying in bed. I'm hoping I come to my senses before it's too late.

The trouble is, I actually do need some things. Like shoes. I've been wearing flip-flops or sneakers to work but there are times when, in fact, something more dressy is called for. And then what do I do??

The worse trouble is, I hate shoe-shopping more than any other kind of shopping. It's a nightmare, because being tall, I have big feet. Which means I can't ever find cute shoes in my size.

As if to make matters even more complicated on the shopping front, I read this article this morning, all about how women's sizes are shrinking to accommodate the vanity of women who are, shall we say, not shrinking accordingly. So in other words, someone who is normally a size 10 can now fit into (for example) a size 6 even though they haven't lost any weight. Because for some reason, women think their beauty is dependent on the number displayed on a tag on their jeans.

Dave Barry wrote about this strange female tendency, and here's part of what he had to say:

When a man shops for clothes, his primary objective -- follow me closely here -- is to purchase clothes that fit on his particular body. A man will try on a pair of pants, and if those pants are too small, he'll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label, so that if you're standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display this information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: ``Howdy! My butt is the size of a Federal Express truck!''

The situation is very different with women. When a woman shops for clothes, her primary objective is not to find clothes that fit her particular body.

She would like for that to be the case, but her primary objective is to purchase clothes that are the size she wore when she was 19 years old. This will be some arbitrary number such as ''8'' or ''10.'' Don't ask me ''8'' or ''10'' of what: That question has baffled scientists for centuries. All I know is that if a woman was a size 8 at age 19, she wants to be a size 8 now, and if a size 8 outfit does not fit her, she will not move on to a larger size: She can't! Her size is 8, dammit! So she will keep trying on size 8 items, and unless they start fitting her, she will become extremely unhappy. She may take this unhappiness out on her husband, who is waiting patiently in the mall, perhaps browsing in the Sharper Image store, trying to think of how he could justify purchasing a pair of night-vision binoculars.

''Hi!'' he'll say, when his wife finds him. ``You know how sometimes the electricity goes out at night and ...''

''Am I fat?'' she'll ask, cutting him off.

This is a very bad situation for the man, because if he answers ''yes,'' she'll be angry because he's saying that she's fat, and if he answers ''no,'' she'll be angry because he's obviously lying, because none of the size 8s fit her. There is no escape for the husband. I think a lot of unexplained disappearances occur because guys in malls see their wives unsuccessfully trying on outfits, and they realize their lives will be easier if, before their wives come out and demand to know whether they're fat, the guys just run off and join a UFO cult.


See, reason #253 why the frogg is still single is that men haven't figured out that she hates shopping, and that she never asks, "Am I fat?" So they aren't aware of what a consequently good catch that makes her--alarming evidence of their short-sightedness and, in some cases, stupidity.

Which, taken together, would be reason #1.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Best Headline EVER Award

Well, the search is over, folks. As you know, I am a bizarre-news junkie. I can't get enough of weird, quirky news stories, and I am always on the lookout for the elusive this-can't-possibly-be-real headline. At long last, I have discovered what I can only assume is the most hilarious headline ever written by man or woman, at least up until this point. (Many thanks to Dave Barry's blog.)

Are you ready? Drum roll please. Here it is:

Filipino judge sacked for consulting trio of mystic dwarves

And as if that weren't hilarious enough, check out the first paragraph:

A Filipino judge who "claimed he could see into the future and admitted consulting imaginary mystic dwarfs" is asking to be reinstated after getting the boot for incompetence, Reuters reports.

There's so much I'd like to say about this, but really... the article says it all.

I do wonder how the journalist felt who got assigned this story. Then again, having had some, shall we say, intriguing assignments myself in my occasional tenure as a contributor to the local hometown rag, I think I can pretty well imagine.

Friday Afternoon, Yay!

Well, it's Friday at last. I thought it would never get here. What a week!

It's also Cinco de Mayo, or Cinco de Drinko as my co-worker calls it. So have fun and be safe--and no, those concepts do not have to be mutually exclusive, ok?

As for me, I am heading to a friend's house after work, to watch a movie based on a Victorian novel while curled up on the couch in my comfy yellow pants. All of which, taken together, could comprise reason #2,012 why the frogg is still single, but hey, who's counting?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Introspective

A friend sent me a link to a video, of a woman who is part of the Westborough Baptist church. The woman was being interviewed on "Hannity & Colmes." Westborough Baptist has been in the news, because the members have a habit of protesting at military funerals, carrying signs that say, "God hates you," "Thank God for 9/11" and "Don't worship the dead." They say that every dead soldier is a judgment from God on a nation that has turned away from Him. They say that God is allowing these soldiers to die because they are in the service of a country that has turned its back on God.

As I listened to this woman, I felt sick. She was horrible, just horrible. How can she think it's morally acceptable to be cruel to people who are hurting over the loss of loved ones? How can she hate people in the name of God? How can she tell other people that God hates them, and feel good about it? What God is she talking about? I don't know him.

Thank God I don't.

Her words and demeanor were so chilling. But while her coldness frightened me, and her words made me angry, they also gave me pause--that I ought to be careful to see the areas in my own heart where i have not allowed an understanding of the deep, rich grace of God to permeate my thinking. Even now I'm recalling hard, mean things that I have said about other people, and sweeping judgments I have made. Not in the far distant past, either. I am far more critical than not, I'm afraid. And I wonder if, on the inside, I look so very different from that woman on the video.

I want to cry when I think about it. I am crying.

I know very well that I am not such a good example of whatever people mean when they say the word "Christian." To be honest, there are times when I can't figure out what I mean anymore by it. I know what I try to be, but I also know how often I don't succeed.

What I know most of all is this:

God is not the sum of my--or anyone else's--imperfections.

And thank God he isn't.

Not For The Faint Of Stomach

If you don't like the words "pickled," "corpse," and "special taste" in close proximity, you really shouldn't click on this link. But if you do, please don't eat first.

Or drink, either. Especially rum.

You might also want to not be Hungarian.

Oh, the Pain

Today I downed four Ibuprofen pills, a mocha, a can of diet Dr Pepper and a cup of Earl Grey tea in my efforts to get rid of a headache I've had since this morning--a headache I thought was due to a lack of sleep. My medicinal, highly caffeinated attempts kind of worked. The headache has faded, though it isn't completely gone.

But now my stomach hurts. Wah.

To take my mind off my current ills, I will think of something positive. Like, what a beautiful day it is outside, here in Southern California. I'll just look out the window and...oh. Wait. It's not very beautiful. All I see are gray clouds, for like the millionth day in a row.

Double wah.

Thankfully for my state of melancholy gloom, I have friends who send me links to wacky stories, because they know how much I adore bizaare news. Today, courtesy of Benjamin, I learned that Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but apparently Stalin's World is a close second.

I never even knew there was a "Stalin's World." I mean, other than the rather horrific one he established during his tenure as a Soviet Union dictator. But now it's an exciting theme park too!

Fav quote from the article (on CNN.com):

Statues of Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin and other Soviet leaders glower at visitors, and the barbed wire fences and guard towers surrounding the park help give it the feel of a Soviet gulag.

Wow. How joyous!

My life is so much richer now. So very, very much.

But my stomach still hurts. :(

Back To School Dreams

Well, I recently had my first bad dream about school. Which is a little weird, seeing as how I don't even start school until November. Maybe I'm more nervous than I thought!

To understand the dream, I need to explain the nature of the program a little. The deal is, you go to the campus for 10 days at the start of every semester. During that time, you participate in workshops, attend lectures, do assignments, and have meetings with a mentor, with whom you'll work throughout the rest of the semester. Once the 10 days are up, everyone goes back home, and gets on with their lives, with the added responsibility of studying and writing their butts off in a sort of independent study format, sending off packets of writing to their mentor every three weeks for feedback, etc.

Ok. So in my dream, it was the start of the semester. I had just flown out to the campus and somehow met up with one of my brothers there (which was odd, because none of them live in Kentucky). We hung out the night before my first day of classes/lectures. Apparently we had too good of a time (I don't remember what we did), because the following day, I show up for class--hours late. As in, I slept in til about noon, and then scrambled like an insane person to get to the lecture room by 1pm. When I got there everyone was like, "Oh, THERE you are!" Then I get all these packets of papers (assignments, I guess), and for the rest of the dream, I was in a panic because I realized something.

I couldn't think of a SINGLE THING to write.

All I had in my head were titles of stories, and none of those were particularly compelling either. (One of them, I recall, was the single word "Inventions." Ugh, what kind of title is that?!) And I thought, "This is going to be... interesting."

I woke up just a little bit depressed.

It would be nice to think that the older we get, the less likely we are to have these kind of anxiety dreams, but maybe I'm just not that old yet. (Whew, silver lining!)

Oh well, at least I didn't miss school entirely in my dream. I remember when I was in high school studying for AP exams, I dreamed that I actually showed up for the test the day AFTER it was given. Talk about about panic! I was so freaked out in my dream, I think I woke myself up!

Anyone else care to share a "favorite" anxiety dream?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tonight's Guest on the "I Love Stephen Colbert" Show: King Tut!

I'm a little behind with the current events, but I finally saw the video of Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And I just want to say one word:

AWE. SOME.

Ok, I made that into two words. But Colbert deserved it. Trust me.

The best part was the video of himself as White House Press Secretary. I watched that on The Colbert Report last night. Great stuff.

Bottom line: You can love him (like me), or you can hate him. You can think he is the funniest thing since sliced bread (hey, that might have been hilarious back in the day, you know), or you can think he's as humorous as a loaf of whole grain goodness that's not sliced at all, not even a little bit. (What on earth am I saying?) Whatever the case, you can't say that Stephen Colbert doesn't have balls.

Which, by the way, you could have said about King Tut, up until today. Not to change the subject or anything, but apparently the big news that made the archaeological world nearly wet its pants had this wonderful, younger-readers-close-your-eyes headline: King Tut's Penis Rediscovered.

Oh, if you don't like the word "penis," you shouldn't read this post.

Wait. Oops. I probably should have said that at the beginning. D'oh!

Well, it's on the DISCOVERY CHANNEL, people. Don't get all mad at me. I report the news, I don't write it. I'm too lazy.

Moving on....

Something tells me I drank too much soda today.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Confessions of a Tailgater

Hello, my name is grackyfrogg, and I... am a tailgater.

Wait, that word looks funny. Is that spelled right? Hmm. Tailgator? Oh whatever.

The POINT is, I drive too close to other cars. I admit it. I'm okay with it. I have really good reflexes. Honest! My passengers, however, are a little less okay with it, from what I've noticed. (Maybe that's why I rarely have passengers whenever I go anywhere. Hmmm.)

But I blame my problem on bumper stickers. Other people's, of course, not mine. Because when I see a bumper sticker, I very badly want to know what it says. I'm nosy. I admit that too (but that's for another "Confession" post).

Bumper stickers intrigue me. Especially when someone has lots of them on their car. It seems to me that the people who have the most bumper stickers are people who are trying to disguise the fact that they have a car at all, because they are probably against them on environmental principles. You can tell because of their bumper stickers, which say things like, "Save the Whales," "My other car is a bicycle," "Love gardens, hate Bushes" or "Green and mean." (Just kidding about those last two. I made them up. But they COULD be bumper stickers, couldn't they?)

The other day, though, I saw a bumper sticker that really made me think. It said, "Jesus is the answer." And what I thought was, doesn't that really depend on the question you're asking? I mean, surely there are some questions to which Jesus is definitely NOT the answer. Like, what if there was a guy driving to work one day, and he was racking his brains trying to figure out who his wife was cheating on him with (because he knew she was cheating on him), and then he sees in big block letters on the back of a speeding SUV, "Jesus is the answer." I bet that would shake him up a bit. Ha!

But another thing I like to look at on cars are license plates. Because there are lots of out-of-state plates in Los Angeles. So far I've seen most of the 48 continental states, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachussetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

I get really bored on the way to and from work. Can you tell?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Conversations With Steve, Vol. 2

I should probably be more socially-conscious and write something about all the "Day Without an (Illegal) Immigrant" protests. But I'm not going to. You can read all about it on... well, pretty much everywhere. Have fun.

I will, however, share an IM conversation I had with my friend Steve today. Why? Because I can. And because it saves me having to be creative and come up with an interesting or socially-conscious post.

(Oddly enough, puke features as a topic of conversation once again, just as it did the last time I posted a Steve conversation--a conversation which, I might add, tells one of the funniest stories I've ever heard.)

If you don't like the word "vomit," you shouldn't read this post.


steve: so whats new with you?

grackyfrogg: just working a lot
grackyfrogg: today is slow though, which is a nice change from last week
grackyfrogg: my eyes felt like they wanted to fall out of my head! [NB: I'm a full-time proofreader. Fun Fun.]
grackyfrogg: i am still taking piano, which is great
grackyfrogg: i am going to be in a recital on sunday

steve: coolio

grackyfrogg: with other students... probably mostly littluns

steve: is it in front of a lot of people?

grackyfrogg: nah... i dont think so

steve: i hated those, i pretty much always screwed up

grackyfrogg: oh i know i will too
grackyfrog: but it's pretty low-pressure... i mean it's not like a competition or anything!

steve: oh, well the pressure for me was mr. "smell like vomit" piano teacher coming down hard on me at my next lesson for making him look like a loser teacher by screwing up my left hand arpeggio at his recital

grackyfrogg: really???
grackyfrogg: he smelled like vomit?????

steve: oh totally

grackyfrogg: eew
grackyfrogg: weird

steve: i know
steve: i never figured out why

grackyfrogg: maybe he vomited a lot
grackyfrogg: maybe he was bulimic

steve: maybe he was a 60 year old male bulemic

grackyfrogg: maybe he had a pet chihuaha that threw up alot
grackyfrogg: on his lap
grackyfrogg: i am glad my teacher does not smell like vomit

steve: im glad that NO ONE i know smells like vomit actually

grackyfrogg: LOL

steve: my first piano teacher was a charismatic black activist, luckily she didnt smell like vomit though

grackyfrogg: i didnt even know you TOOK piano lessons

steve: oh yeah for like 10 years

grackyfrogg: what!!

steve: maybe 8

grackyfrogg: you should be pretty good then!
grackyfrogg: i've never heard you play!!!
grackyfrogg: wait, is this really steve balsiger? who am i talking to???

steve: no this is timothy Fruegenhaus

grackyfrogg: LOL
grackyfrogg: excellent

steve: well i stopped lessons in like 10th grade so i never really got all that advanced
steve: but at the end i was doing some fairly hard stuff, but its been so long

grackyfrogg: wow. well it's nice to know there is always something new to learn about your friends! [NB: Even after 15+ years!]

steve: wow, i thought that after i shared with you about the time i spent in prison that that pretty much covered everything about me

grackyfrogg: LOL

steve: i guess i left the piano part out

grackyfrogg: i so want to just post this conversation to my blog

steve: see, look how much time ive saved you, may 1 blog creation: Done!

Most Depressing News Story EVER Award

This story wins it. Hands down.