frogg files

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas: The Morning After

Well, I hope everyone had a holly-jolly Christmas or something along those lines. If you don't celebrate Christmas, that's a shame — it's quite the experience.

I'd love to go into detail about my own Christmas dinner adventures yesterday, but I'm still recovering somewhat. Suffice to say that if you put four Egyptian families in the same room, the words "silent night" and "heavenly peace" definitely won't apply.

Especially at the kids' table. Over which, at the age of 31, I still proudly preside, joined by an entourage of other "youngsters" (who are, in no particular order, various ages that I can't remember, but which range from early teens to 26).

But anyway, enough about me!

Just want to wish you all the best of the rest of the season, and a fun, happy, and safe New Year's! I'll be going on vacation for awhile (from the blog at least; I still have to work — bah humbug!), so please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible (in 2007).

Until then, be nice, play fair, and miss me, my darlings.

Kisses from the frogg princess...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a… partridge.
The frogg passed by her window, looked out and stared
In hopes that her true love soon would be there.

The swans were nestled all snug on the lawn
While Leo in his cage opened his beak in a yawn,
And the frogg with her cocoa and Schnapps (I mean marshmallows)
Had just settled herself in a chair by the, um, fire (sorry, but nothing rhymes with marshmallows)

When suddenly outside there arose such a clatter!
The frogg sprang from her chair to see what was the matter!
Away to the window she flew like a flash
Tore open the shutter and threw up the sash.

Out on the lawn, in the glow of the moon,
She saw her true love, and he was singing a tune!
As the Four Calling Birds backed him up, all a'swaying
To the accompanying strains of Six Policeman Playing!

The Frogg's true love grinned, and blew her a kiss
As she laughed and waved back with a heart full of bliss!
And suddenly the swans were joining the throng
And the French Kens were there, laughing along!

The nine British lords were leaping and dancing
Around the eight quilting grannies, whose needles were flashing
While they sat in their rockers and continued to sew
Smiling and winking with their faces aglow!

And oh! what was this! Twelve drummers drumming?
(Then Leo II surprised her by joining in, humming)
It was a rockin' good party, all could agree
Everyone was jolly and happy and free!

The frogg's true love beckoned, and in her heart she did wonder
What other gift he could possibly have got her.
“Frogg Princess,” he said, “I just want you to know
That I’ll always love you—but now I must go.”

And suddenly, he disappeared and all of his gifts
Were only a memory in a matter of minutes.
She couldn’t believe that he would leave her that way,
And she hung her head, in utter dismay.

Til she went in the house, and what should she see
But a beautiful ring, and a note: “Wait for me.”
She smiled then, though her eyes filled with tears,
She knew that she would... even if it took years.

Now I'll say merry Christmas to all my readers and friends
Who’ve followed along to this story’s end.
I hope you enjoyed it, and I wish you the best
I know I’ve had fun—thanks for being my guest!

(If you think the ending was cheesy, I’m sorry,
But what can I say—I’m running out of ideas!
Argh, the last line I wrote did not even rhyme!
So I’m going to go—isn’t it about time?!)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

...I had severe Blogger difficulties, which prevented me from logging in to my account until now. Also I was *gasp* out shopping. I have a headache.

I'm going to watch TV now, because I'm tired. Amuse yourselves thinking about the story I might have written. Better yet, if you want, tell me what you think my true love got me today! I'd be interested to hear.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Tenth Day of Christmas

I just realized I got my days of Christmas mixed up. Argh I hate that song!

My true love was supposed to send me nine ladies dancing yesterday, not nine lords a'leaping. But who cares. What would I have done with nine ladies dancing? I ask you.

So, let's skip the ladies altogether. Today he got me...

...10 lift tickets for snowboarding!

(Oh how I wish.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Ninth Day of Christmas

I was swimming through the mall, which had somehow become filled with water. Hapless shoppers floated by, along with various potential gifts that were always just a little out of reach. Suddenly, a shark appeared out of the mall's darkened depths, jaws open for the kill. It was coming straight for me! I tried to scream but I was underwater. I swam as fast as I could, but it was nowhere near fast enough. The shark was closing in...

I awoke suddenly, in a sweat. I looked around wildly. I was in my room, and the shark-infested mall was gone. It had been a nightmare, that's all. The ringing phone had yanked me out of sleep. I leaned across the bed to the nightstand and picked it up, still groggy.

"Hello?" I mumbled.

"Hi, is this Grackyfrogg?"said a woman's voice.

"I think so," I said.

"Oh, well, this is Annie from across the street."

"Hi Annie," I said, waking up a bit more now. What could my neighbor want at this hour? But then I looked at my bedside clock, and saw that that it was 11am. Oh.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to bother you, but... well, I just wondered if you knew that there are a bunch of strange men leaping about in front of your house."

"Strange men? Leaping?"

"Yes, and they are dressed like... like British lords."

"Hmm," I said. "What do British lords typically dress like, Annie?"

"Like these guys!" she said, sounding irritated. "I just told you!"

11am or not, it was way too early for this conversation.

"Ok, sorry," I said. "I think they're from my true love. It's all good."

"From your true love?"

"Yes, he's been sending me weird gifts lately."

"I... see."

I yawned. "Anyway, thanks for letting me know. I'm sure they'll go away soon."

"Wait a minute," she said. "Do you think... could I have one?"

"Have one what?"

"One of the leaping lords."

"Uh," I said. "How many of them are there?"

She paused, and I imagined her staring out her window, counting.

"Nine," she finally said. "And they're really cute."

"Sure, help yourself," I said. Then I hung up and went back to sleep, but not before thinking that it takes a very secure man to send nine handsome British lords to leap and prance in front of his beloved's house.

Of course, it would take an even more secure man to be one of those lords.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Eighth Day of Christmas

So, for those just tuning in, it is now the eighth day of Christmas (meaning there are only four days left—I think I got the math right this time!). I have not done any Christmas shopping to speak of, though I did some that I am trying to forget. On the other hand, here’s what my true love has given me so far:

-A partridge, whom I have christened Leo II in honor (if that’s the right word, which I doubt) of the cowgirl’s demon cockatiel. There was also a pear tree, but I kind of forgot about that til just now.

-A pair of turtle gloves.

-A thorough housecleaning, courtesy of three French Kens.

-Singing telegrams, delivered by Four Calling Birds.

-Five golden rings on a necklace.

-Six Policeman Playing (aka SPSquared), a musical sextet who serenaded me with weird, I mean awesome, arrangements of Christmas songs.

-Seven swans a’swimming in my backyard pool—swans who may or may not be able to talk. There was some debate about this, but since the debate was actually with the swans, I’m inclined to think they may have some skills in the verbal arena after all.

Which brings us to today.

I had woken up to the sound of Leo II’s high-pitched whistling, which startled me because I’d sort of forgotten about him, thanks to the silencing sheet I kept over his cage. Unfortunately, forgetting about him meant I had also forgotten to feed him, and he was now reminding me. Vociferously.

I went downstairs to give him some food and make him shut up. First goal accomplished, second one not so much. Groaning, I went outside to pick up the morning paper and get away from him for a minute, and stopped suddenly on my porch. There on the lawn were eight charming little old ladies in rocking chairs, rocking away as they laughed and chatted and worked on a gigantic quilt, upon which they were embroidering a huge picture of… my own face?!

I blinked. Several times. I was speechless.

“It was your true love’s idea,” said one of the grannies.

“I can’t imagine how to thank him,” I said.

“Oh I’m sure you’ll think of something,” she said, and winked.

“Oh I really doubt it,” I said, smiling.

I picked up the paper and went back in the house. For awhile, I had forgotten to worry about my true love’s sanity but now, suddenly, I remembered.

I sighed. I had another, more immediate problem demanding my attention. Namely, what sort of breakfast I could offer to eight ladies quilting.

How do you think they’d feel about fresh partridge?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Seventh Day of Christmas

With only, let’s see, five (wait, six? having trouble counting!) days left before Christmas actually hits, I began to freak out. I needed a seriously good present for my true love, but I had not done one iota of Christmas shopping. (Not that this was any sort of big departure from the norm, of course.)

Oh wait. I’m sorry, I did in fact do one little iota. I went shopping the other day, but apparently all I could find was a pothole. While I’m sure my true love would graciously accept anything at all I cared to give him, just like any other guy would (right, guys? right, ladies?), I was concerned about this particular gift. Its intangibility was not in its favor, to begin with.

So that meant I had to go back to the drawing board, otherwise known as—the mall.

I sighed. Deeply. Tragically. Exasperatedly.

I have a love-hate relationship with the mall, if by “love-hate” you mean “hate” and if by “relationship” you mean “not remotely on speaking terms.” And never do my emotions reach such a zenith as at the Christmas season.

I mean, how could one not adore driving around endlessly looking for a non-existent parking space in a vast, several-storied concrete wasteland? How could one not be joyous while getting jostled and bumped by countless harried shoppers as they dash through stores leaving chaos and cranky clerks behind?

Of course, the answer to both of those questions is, "With amazing ease." But frankly, time was running out to order anything online, and I was getting desperate. I knew I wanted to get something really good, really amazing, really different for my beloved. But what?

I considered whale barf, but changed my mind. Quickly. (Anyway, I don't think they carry it at the mall.)

As I sat at my kitchen table racking my beleaguered brains for other ideas, I heard a noise outside. It sounded like something splashing in my pool. I jumped up and ran out to the backyard, just in time to see six huge swans land in the water, joining the one who was already there, paddling around as if it owned the place.

I noticed that there was a little jingle bell and piece of holly hanging around each of their necks, tied with a silver ribbon.

Were they a gift from my true love? Or should I call pest control?

Thankfully I didn’t have to wonder too long, because one of them cleared its throat and said, “Sorry for the dramatic entrance. We were supposed to arrive last night to surprise you in the morning. Your true love gave us directions but, well, we took a little detour and..."

“Detour! You mean we got lost!” snapped another swan.

“Mere semantics,” said the first swan loftily. The other swans laughed in what I couldn't help but think was a mocking tone. I stared at them all, stunned.

“I’m sorry,” I said, addressing myself to the first swan. “I’m a little concerned that I may be hallucinating. Did you... say something just now?”

“Of course not,” it said. “Swans can’t talk. Everyone knows that.”

"So I am hallucinating?"

"Not at all," said the swan. "You're just imagining things."

“Oh good,” I said in a relieved voice, and started back to the house, when the swan called out, "Wait a minute!"

"Yes?" I asked, turning around.

"I almost forgot to give you this," and he arched his beautiful neck and plucked a rolled piece of paper under his wing. "This is from your true love. But," he winked, "you didn't hear it from me."

"Hear what?" I said, and went back into the house, where I read the note. It said:

Birds of a feather
Show my love forever...


Ok, so it wasn't his best poetic moment. But the sentiment was very sweet. I had to smile.

However, the problem of what to get my true love remained; it had unfortunately not gone away while I was having my little metaphysical debate at the pool. Whereas he had just symbolized his undying love with a flock of seven swans a-swimming!

In other words, my true love was waaaay ahead of me in the "creative gifts" department.

I groaned. What was I going to do??

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Well, it had been several days since I’d last seen my true love, and I was starting to wonder where he was. True, he kept sending his love in the form of gifts—but what strange gifts! (See the five previous posts.) I didn’t know what to make of any of them.

At any rate I was tired of trying to figure it out. When evening came, I wandered through the empty rooms of my house, disconsolate. I even considered taking the sheet off of Leo II’s cage and listening to him sing for awhile, just for the illusion of company.

The fact that I could entertain that idea for one millisecond made me more depressed than ever.

I went outside onto my front porch and sat in a deck chair, leaning forward and putting my chin in my hands as I stared out to the street. The plain fact was, I was feeling lonely. I wanted to see my true love in person again. I wanted to see his warm, silly smile. I sighed as the setting sun slanted its rays across my lawn (well-watered and trimmed thanks to the three French Kens, who really went above and beyond their housecleaning duties).

As I watched the sun go down, I realized that I hadn’t even gotten a message from my true love today. No random cryptic notes, no odd presents. Nothing. And I have to admit, I was disappointed.

But oh me of little faith.

Twilight was falling when two police cars pulled up to the curb right in front of my house, and six officers got out. I sat up quickly, noticing that each officer was carrying something—something large. My eyes narrowed. What was going on?

“Excuse me, miss?” said one of the policeman.

“Yes, officer. Is there a problem?”

“Not at all,” he said. “Your true love sent us to play for you.” Behind him, the other police officers had set down the things they were carrying, which turned out to be instrument cases.

Play for me?” I asked. “What do you mean?”

“Oh well, we are a musical sextet,” he answered matter-of-factly. “We’re called SPSquared.”

“What does that mean?”

“Six Policemen Playing,” he said. “We thought it sounded catchy.”

I didn’t,” said one of the other officers, under his breath. But the first one heard him anyway, and whirled around.

“Well, it’s better than Sixy Nights, which was your idea” he snarled. Someone else snickered.

“Ok, ok,” I said. I wanted to make peace, and the lead guy was looking miffed, so I tried to say that I thought Six Policemen Playing was a great name for a band, but I choked instead. When I recovered, I decided to just ignore the whole issue of their name and move on to more important matters.

“So, what are you going to play?” I asked.

“Oh, we’re just going to serenade you for awhile. We have some nice arrangements of popular Christmas tunes,” he said. “We made them up ourselves! And we brought you a little something else to help set the mood, courtesy again of your true love,” and he whipped out a bottle of shiraz, a bar of dark chocolate, and a silver-glitter-dusted envelope.

“Ok. I guess I can deal with that,” I said, taking them. “Play on, boys.”

And that’s what they did. They began with “Away in a Manger” which I only recognized because the first guy sang the words; they had arranged it in a minor key, which was certainly… well, different. I began to appreciate having the wine. Then they moved on to “Jingle Bells” which was entirely performed on percussion instruments—primarily bongos and a glockenspiel. I found myself thinking that Leo II with all his screeching wasn’t such a bad deal after all.

Better yet, maybe he could be a useful addition to their band. Hmmm.

I was debating whether or not it would be bad form to give the loud-mouthed partridge away, considering that my true love had bestowed him upon me, when the group began playing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (an accordion featured prominently) and I started getting misty-eyed in spite of myself. Then I remembered the silver envelope. I opened it, and pulled out the note inside. There was just enough light to read the words:

Dear frogg princess,

Enjoy the music! See you soon…

Your true love

P.S. I miss you, too.


I smiled, leaned back in my chair, and closed my eyes while the Six Policeman Playing launched into an intriguing version of “Angels We Have Heard On High” complete with washboard and maracas…

The Fifth Day of Christmas: A Mad Lib

Hey everybody. Since I was feeling creatively challenged, today's installment of my Christmas story was done as a Mad Lib. I wrote up the story, then took out some key words and had a friend fill in the blanks without letting her look at the story. The blanks are indicated by the underlined words. Hope you enjoy the results of our experiment as much as I did—though I readily admit it doesn't take much to amuse me.

Once upon a time, the frogg princess woke up on the eighth day before Christmas and had a panic attack, because she had not done any shopping for her true love, even though she had already gotten some gooey(adjective) gifts from him. So she decided it was time to go shopping!

The frogg chased(verb) around the mall slowly(adverb). In the first store she went to, she found a crusty(adjective) cheese(noun) but she wasn’t sure it was quite his style. For one thing, it was too manila(color). Then she thought that maybe he would like a camel(animal). But then she remembered his allergies. If she got one of those he would soar(verb) constantly. So she changed her mind about a pet, and went out and found a place that sold potholes(plural noun).

“Hey,” she said to the clerk, picking up a pothole. “This is pretty greasy(adjective). How much is it?”

21(number) dollars,” said the clerk, who was squatting(verb) her nails, which were a rusty(adjective) shade of pea-green(color).

“Well, that sounds reasonable,” said the frogg creepily(adverb). “I’ll take it.”

Whoa(exclamation!)” said the clerk. “I know your true love will squeeze(verb) it.”

“Yeah, well, he better,” said the frogg.

“Here you go,” said the clerk, putting the pothole in a shopping bag.

The frogg drove home grumpily(adverb). She was so prickly(adjective) that she had found such an itchy(adjective) gift.

When the frogg arrived at her house, she saw an envelope taped to the door with her name on it.

“Oh!” she thought quickly(adverb). “This is surely from my true love!”

She opened the envelope loudly(adverb). Inside was a sweet(adjective) necklace with a pendant of five interlocking rings—kind like the Olympic logo.

“Hmm,” thought the frogg. “Five golden rings! This is a very clear(adjective) necklace. How dirty(adjective) of my true love! I just swing(verb) him so much.”

And the frogg went to sleep that night, feeling flashy(adjective).

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Fourth Day of Christmas

When I got back from the day spa yesterday afternoon, all refreshed and relaxed, I found the house sparkling clean, the French Kens gone, Leo II moved into a brand-new cage with a very thick sheet over it to encourage his silence, and the pear tree planted appropriately in the backyard.

I slept very well that night.

The next day, I got up and went for a walk, enjoying the bright summery December weather. Flowers were blooming, birds were singing, and squirrels were chattering to each other as they scrabbled around in the oak trees that spread their strong branches over the wide, quiet streets.

Ah, California Christmas...

As I was returning home, I thought over all the things my true love had sent so far—Leo II the partridge (if that's what he really was) in a pear tree, the two turtle gloves (that I had yet to wear; I mean, who wears gloves in California?) and the three French Kens who had done such an excellent job of making my house habitable (er, not that it wasn't before, of course). It was all very sweet of him, but what did it all mean?

I was sure of only one thing: I was going to have the heck of a time finding an Equivalent Gift.

I was still mulling over this sobering realization, when I turned up my driveway, and saw four figures standing in front of my door. I stopped. They looked like people-sized white birds with long spindly legs and huge wings.

"H-hello?" I called out, tentatively. "Can I help you?"

They turned around and I saw that they actually were people. Who happened to be dressed in the costume of giant white birds, with wide-open beaks so you could see the person's face inside. What a relief, I thought.

Wait a second.

I was rethinking the relief aspect of the situation—after all, people dressing up like birds and wandering around in broad daylight might not exactly be evidence of sound minds at work—one of the birds spoke up and said, "Are you Miss Grackyfrogg?"

"Uh, yeah. Who are you?"

"We're the Four Calling Birds," she said brightly. "And we have a Christmas Song-a-Gram for you!"

"A Christmas sonogram?" I asked, baffled.

Her smile faded. "No, SONG-a-gram. You know, a singing telegram."

"Oooh." This time I was definitely relieved.

"Ahem," she said, and turned to her fellow Calling Birds. They lined up dutifully in a row, and the first bird put a little pitch pipe to her mouth and blew a single clear note. Then they all began to sing in perfect four-part harmony:


God rest ye, merry Grackyfrogg, let nothing you dismay!
We're here to sing a song for you, because your true love paid!
He says he's sorry he's not here, but though he's far away
He sends tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy,
He sends tidings of comfort and joy!


"Uh, thanks," I said. "That was... nice."

"Wait, we're not done," said one of the other birds. "We have one more!"

They fluttered their wings and sang:


Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la la!
Kiss the frogg and let's be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la!
Your true love wants to say "I love you," fa la la la la la la la LA!
Hope you like this gift he got you, fa la la la la la la la LAAAAA!


"Cool," I said. "So what's the gift?"

The birds looked at each other. "Er, well, we are," said the first one.

"Oh."

"So, you know, we're saying, 'hope you like the songs!'"

"And the singing, too, of course," one of the other birds broke in.

"Of course. Right. Got it," I said. There was an awkward pause.

The first Calling Bird made a motion as if to look at her watch, but if she was wearing one it was hidden due to the fact that her arm was lost inside a gigantic wing. She cleared her throat. "Well anyway. Um. Guess we'll be going," she said. The Four Calling Birds then stood at attention one last time. "Merry Christmas!" they cried, before running in a flurry of feathers toward a tiny car parked by the sidewalk. Somehow they all piled in, and sped away.

I watched the car careen around the corner, then laughed and turned to go into the house. I couldn't imagine what tomorrow would bring...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Third Day of Christmas

That night, I slept very badly. For one thing, Leo II wouldn’t shut up, which led to increased doubts about his partridge-iness. I mean honestly, do partridges make noise? What are they supposed to sound like? For that matter, does anyone even know what a partridge looks like?

Anyway. Leo II’s screeching voice finally gave out somewhere around 4am, and I managed to catch a few precious zzzz’s. I woke up late, with a headache, to a totally different sound.

Someone was… running the vacuum cleaner??

I jumped out of bed in a hurry, threw on some clothes and grabbed the baseball bat that, amazingly, lay under my bed in spite of the fact that I don’t even play baseball. I crept to the stairs and stood on the landing, listening carefully. Yes, that was definitely the vacuum. I had not been hallucinating after all. But… why? What was going on?

Why on earth would someone break into my house to clean? I glanced around. Ok, sure, it had been awhile since I’d given the place a good scrubbing—or a bad one, for that matter—but was it really so dirty that they felt they couldn’t even rob it before they tidied up a bit?

Well, it was hard to keep being afraid of someone who was, technically, doing me a favor—whoever they were. As I stood there trying to figure out what to do, the blaring strains of the Mexican Hat Dance cut through my concentration and scared me half to death before I realized it was my cell phone ringing, back in my bedroom. I scrambled back to answer it before the intruder noticed anything. The screen was flashing with my true love’s phone number. I snatched it up and hit the answer button.

“Hi there princess,” said my true love.

“Hey,” I whispered urgently. “There’s someone in my house! And they’re cleaning!”

“Oh good,” he said. “That means they’ve arrived!”

“What? Who’s arrived? What are you talking about?”

“The cleaners. I sent them. Hey listen, I have to run, but I just wanted to make sure they were there. I’ll catch you later, ok? Kiss kiss.”

“Wait, what…” I began, but he had already hung up.

I stared at my phone. I was really, really starting to worry about my true love.

I looked out my window, and saw a white van in my driveway with the words “We Ken Clean” on it, thoroughly outraging my finely tuned proofreading sensibilities so that I completely forgot to be afraid and became annoyed instead. Still gripping my baseball bat, I marched downstairs and into the kitchen, where a man in a black-and-white striped sailor shirt and a red beret was unloading the dishwasher, and another man in the same attire was tsk-tsking over the dying plants on the windowsill as he watered them.

“Ahem,” I said.

Both men looked up. “Enchante, mademoiselle,” the first one said, putting the dish he was holding on the counter, before coming over to me and kissing my hand. I frowned and pulled my hand back.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“We are ze cleanairs,” he said. “My name is Ken.”

“As is mine,” said the other man, bowing.

“And mine,” said a third man, who came walking in just then. He must have been the one vacuuming, I thought. He was also wearing the same style of clothes.

“Well, that explains the van,” I muttered. Then I raised my voice and asked, “What are you all doing here?”

“Of course we are cleaning, mademoiselle!” The first man, who was apparently the spokesperson, looked offended at my stupidity.

“I can see that you’re cleaning,” I snapped. “I meant, why? And how did you get in?”

“We are told to clean, we come and clean,” Ken #1 said, with a haughty sniff. “Your true love, he gives us ze key.” I opened my mouth to protest, but Ken #3 cut in before I could say everything that was on my mind—which, right then, was an awful lot. “Yes, and he told us to give you this also,” he said, handing me an envelope.

I took it from him, and went into the living room to open it privately, leaving the three French Kens still polishing up the kitchen. I opened the envelope, and found... a gift certificate to a local day spa, along with another note from my beloved:

Frogg Princess,

Saw this and thought of you!


I laughed. He was listening after all! What a surprise.

Ken #2 was suddenly standing next to me. “You go and have fun today,” he said, pushing me gently toward the door. “We take care of everything.”

“But…”

“No no, there is no ‘but’! That is why your true love got you this gift! Go now! Relax! Have fun!”

And suddenly I was standing on my porch with my carkeys in my hand, the door shut behind me.

Well.

If you think it’s crazy that I’d go off to a day spa and leave a bunch of strange men in my house cleaning it, you are absolutely right! But I don't care. I did anyway. This is my story and I can do what I want to.

Besides, if nothing else, it was a chance to get away from Leo II...

The Second Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day before Christmas, I woke up refreshed and happy, sure that I had merely dreamed the terrible events of the day before. My true love couldn’t possibly have brought me a bird as a gift, especially one that reminded me of Leo, the demon cockatiel. No, it must have been nothing more than a nightmare.

“Ha ha,” I thought to myself. “I really should lay off the bourbon before bedtime!”

Then I went downstairs and saw the pear tree and its Resident Evil by the fireplace.

“This is going to be a very long day,” I thought.

As if in answer to my unspoken remark, the creature started trilling and shrieking at the top of its voice. Who would have thought the old bird would have so much volume in him? I closed my eyes and groaned. Just then the doorbell rang.

“Shut up!” I yelled at the partridge, which ignored me. I went to the door, opened it, and saw…

No one!

How strange. But there at my feet was a little box with a bow on it. I picked it up. Tucked into the lid was a card. I pulled it out and opened it.

My dear frog princess,

I’m afraid I can’t stay
Business calls me away.
But in the meantime it’s true
I got this present for you!
And I hope that you’ll have a great day.

Love,
Your true love


“I hope he got the hint about the jewelry,” I thought as I untied the bow. But alas, no sparkling gems were inside—just a pair of soft, black mittens. With a repeating pattern of green and yellow tortoises embroidered on them.

I stared at this strange gift, wondering. Had my true love gone insane? What on earth did he mean by buying me a pair of turtle gloves? There was a mystery here, and I was going to get to the bottom of it…

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The First Day of Christmas

It was the first day of the twelve days before Christmas. Outside, the air was crisp and cool and clear, and the leaves were changing and falling off the trees. The expected highs were in the scant 70s.

California was finally in the throes of winter.

I was tra-la-la-ing as I sashayed through the house, hanging stockings with care, and lights by the chimney, and all that lovely Christmasy stuff. I put Handel's Messiah on the stereo, and made some hot chocolate. I pulled my copy of Dickens' A Christmas Carol off the shelf, settled into an overstuffed chair, and flipped open to the first page.

I had just gotten past "The Marleys were dead to begin with" when suddenly, the doorbell rang.

"Oh it must be my true love!" I cried. I ran to the door, threw it open, and found myself face to face with... A pair of beady little eyes, a sharp little beak, and a fluffing of feathers.

"L-Leo!!" I screamed.

"Surprise!" shouted my true love's voice, and he jumped out from behind the leafy branches of the pear tree in which the malevolent avian creature was sitting.

"Um," I said. "Sweetheart. Shmoopie pie. Would you mind explaining just WHAT THIS IS?"

He beamed. "It's a partridge in a pear tree! I saw it and instantly thought of you."

I glared at him. "Thanks a lot."

"Who's Leo, by the way?"

"Er, nobody. Just someone I used to know."

The bird turned its head to blink at me with one of its eyes, and I couldn't help but notice the grim resemblance to the cowgirl's evil demon-cockatiel, who had supposedly passed away a couple months ago. As if to confirm my suspicions that reincarnation might, after all, be a tenable theory, the partridge opened its beak and gave a loud HISSSSSS! I jumped back.

"Oh he likes you," said my true love, grinning. "I can see you guys are going to get along great."

Inside the house, the Hallelujah chorus began thundering through the loudspeakers. I stomped to the stereo and shut it off. Behind me, my true love was hauling the tree and its seething occupant into my living room.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" I shrieked. "The bird stays outside!"

My true love looked pained. "My darling frogg princess, you can't mean it. It's cold out there. He might die!"

I bit my lip. "Yes, that would be a terrible shame," I said, staring at the bird as very unChristmaslike visions danced through my head.

"He'll be fine right here by the fireplace. He'll sit in the tree, and keep you company!" My (clueless) true love pecked me on the cheek and dashed to the door. "Sorry, gotta run, but I'll be back tomorrow...!"

"Yeah, well, why don't you see if some jewelry might make you think of me next time! Or a ski lift ticket!! OR A SPA VACATION!!!" I called after him, but he was already out the door...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Winner of the Frogg's "So Funny I Forgot To Laugh" Award

Once upon a time, and quite likely in a galaxy far, far away, writers used to write stories based on actual facts. Then one day, one of them (who was probably suffering a severe case of writer's block at the time) had the following illuminatory brainwave:

Who needs facts when you can have opinions?

And Christopher Hitchens was born.

To be fair—which I don't have to be, seeing as how I, too, am a writer—I wouldn't necessarily single out Hitchens for my ire (I mean award) because he's hardly alone in the land of Writers Who Simply Spout Off. Today, though, he really deserves some special recognition, thanks to his article "Why Women Aren't Funny" in Vanity Fair, which details his entirely reasonable and scientifically supportable opinion that women are just not as funny as men.

Oh wait. That's neither reasonable nor scientifically supportable! My mistake. And Hitchens' too, as it happens.

At the risk of sounding rather humorless myself (but hey, we all know that I am absolutely not funny at all), I'm going to venture to say that Hitchens might be just a little off track with his thesis (literary term alert!). It would have made far more sense for him to claim that women have a DIFFERENT sense of humor, than to postulate that women are simply not as funny as men. And a lot easier to back up with the conglomeration of anecdotal "evidence" he compiles to support his hypothesis (which is a scientific term—see, I'm bilingual! But don't laugh, I'm not funny!).

Let's take a look at some of his observations, shall we? Here's an excerpt from the beginning of his manifesto:

Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: "He's really quite cute, and he's kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he's so funny ... However, there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: "She's a real honey, has a life of her own … [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] … and, man, does she ever make 'em laugh."

Hmm, well, that's a pretty convincing premise so far. Nothing unscientific there! In fact, it makes me want to read right the heck on, fully convinced of Hitchens' formidable reasoning powers. And thus I find this intriguing bit a few paragraphs down:

In any case, my argument doesn't say that there are no decent women comedians. There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.

Wow. I am blinded by the shining light of his perspicacity. And I am also relieved to hear that women CAN be funny in Hitchens' world after all! As long as they are fat, lesbian, and/or Jewish.

Thank God. I thought for a minute there he was generalizing madly or something.

We continue on, caught in the tractor beam of his bold, bright intellect:

Precisely because humor is a sign of intelligence (and many women believe, or were taught by their mothers, that they become threatening to men if they appear too bright), it could be that in some way men do not want women to be funny. They want them as an audience, not as rivals.

Well, there's a double-edged sword. Women are smart, but don't want to show it by being the hilarious creatures they COULD be, because it might make men feel threatened. Which means, I think, if I follow his argument to its logical conclusion, that women AREN'T smart (since they prefer to hide their funniness so that men won't dislike them), and that men (SOME men—let's not generalize!) are still sexist pigs.

Not that I know anything about logic, of course. Hello—woman, remember?

But now at last, we get to the joke, and oh boy, is it a knee-slapper. Surprise! Hitchens is on the side of women after all! Hahaha! Just check this out:

...the explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates. This is the unspoken compromise.

So women, in case you were tempted to be upset that you aren't funny, don't be! You're the ones secretly ruling the world! All those years of repression and, in some cases, oppression were merely affectations on your part and not a representation of the true(thy) reality.

Oh, you cunning minxes, all of you!

Somehow, I have a feeling that we are not amused. But then why should we be? Hitchens' article isn't so much funny as laughable, and believe me, there is a BIG difference. On the other hand, maybe by not finding the humor in his rambling attempt at wit, I am just proving his entire supposition: that women lack a fundamentally male anatomical reference point... also known as the Funny Bone.

(Which reminds me—another literary term is double entendre. Just, you know, in case you were wondering.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

'Tis the Season...for a Bigger Pair of Jeans!

So you know how people talk about gaining the "Freshman Fifteen" when you go off to college? Well, I've had occasion to observe another weight-gain phenomenon, to which I, being the public-service-minded pontiff that I am (deep down inside where no one can see), desire now to draw your attention.

I call this phenomenon "The Month of December."

Catchy name, huh?

Unlike The Freshman Fifteen, The Month of December is unavoidable, unless of course you've figured out the secrets of time travel, and if you have I don't even want to hear it. The point is, there is absolutely nothing we can do—all the fitness magazine articles to the contrary—to avoid the weight that piles on during the holiday season. It's like magic. December 1st rolls around, the body goes, "Oh, it's December!" and presto! Your favorite jeans are tighter, and you are five pounds heavier! Just like that! Without even trying!!

It really is a hopeless time of year in some ways. You want to eat healthy, but every time you turn around, someone is putting food in your face. Cookies, candy, chocolate—whatever it is, there is no escape. Even if you don't actually eat it, you are breathing air weighted down with all the high-calorie emissions that surround these rich foods. Breathing has never been so bad for you, believe me.

"What about exercise?" I can hear you ask. To which I politely respond, "Hahahaha." Which is about all the exercise I'll do this season—and you too, I'll bet.

So my scientific conclusion is that there is no way to prevent the weight gain. However, I believe you can at least minimize it somewhat. Here are a few ideas that should help...

...Ok, I lied. I have no ideas. There is nothing to be done. Just accept it and pray for January to come quick, when you can start your New Year's Resolution gym membership.

Hahaha.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Apologies...

...for my cranky, illness-induced sarcasm of yesterday. Of COURSE I care if people are having trouble posting comments every now and then. It's just that I'd care a lot more if I could actually do something about it. Since I can't, I think we should all just move on and get along with our lives. I know it is not the perfect solution, but it's the best I can do with a stuffy head, a cough, the sniffles, and continuing exhaustion.

Yes, that's right. I'm still sick. And thanks to my illness, I am also behind on my writing assignments for my master's program. Which means that I am stressed, and stress, as we all know, is bad for health. This is what is known, in literary terms, as a vicious cycle.

On the plus side, the weather has been great in California lately, my hair still looks quite good, and it's almost the weekend.

In literary terms, that's called the silver lining. There always is one, isnt't there?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Technical Difficulties Again?

It has recently come to my attention that people are having difficulty posting comments to my blog. Thank you, all of you who kindly informed me of this fact. Please accept my sincere apologies, as well as my assurances that, seeing as how I am not Frank the Super TechnoGeek, I am going to do nothing whatsoever to fix the problem.

Feel free to vent your frustrated feelings in the comments section.

Ha.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It Ain't Lean Cuisine...

So the other day, I was driving and listening to the radio, and a commercial came on for Carl's Jr.'s latest addition to their fast-food menu: The Philly Cheesesteak Burger.

And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like; namely, a burger patty with steak and cheese piled on top of it. Also known as "Heart Attack on a Plate."

I cannot adequately express what a good idea the Philly Cheesesteak Burger is, mainly because I think it's stupid. And I have a feeling I'm not the only one. Because right after the commercial for this unique culinary inspiration finished, the song "American Idiot" by Green Day began to play.

Someone at the radio station has a sense of humor.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Descent Into Delirium

Alright, it's officially official: I am sick of being sick.

I'm tired of having a runny nose, which makes me sniffle. I'm tired of having dry skin around and under my nose thanks to blowing it all the time. I'm tired of being a grouch (and I'm sure everyone I know is tired of this also). I'm tired of everything I eat tasting the same; i.e., like paper. Not that I know what paper tastes like. I mean, I do, because I ate it once when I was a kid. But I was a kid so long ago that I probably don't remember.

Look, it's just a figure of speech, ok? I'm cranky enough already, especially now that I've reminded myself that I am also old. So let's just move on.

What was I talking about?

Oh, right. I was complaining about being sick.

Forget it. I'm too tired.

But the worst thing about being sick is that yesterday I got my hair cut and styled and looked about as gorgeous as it's possible for me to look (except I was wearing my glasses, which fit crooked), but couldn't properly flaunt my stunningness because I felt too ill to even think about going out anywhere, and ended up just going home.

Lame. Kind of like this blog post, in fact.