Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is The Wait Worth It?

The phenomenon of camping out in line in anticipation of being among the first to (insert action here) is a fun one. Do I scoff, or participate? Both. It really depends on my interest, passion and energy for the subject at hand. While I might think that someone willing to stand in line for two days for X is lame with misdirected priorities, I might think that waiting in line for X is a brilliant idea.

A couple of weeks ago when Clifton and I went to Best Buy to get a cable for my computer, there stood a really long line of people in front of the store. You could tell these were diehards because there were pup tents, sleeping bags, coolers and lawn chairs. Who knows how long they had been there, but they were waiting for the store’s Sunday opening (we were there on a Saturday afternoon) to get the new Nintendo game system. The week, or so, prior there were similar lines for those waiting to get the new Xbox.

Clifton almost convinced me that we should join these people in line so that we could each buy one of the systems, then sell them on Ebay for a substantial profit. But therein lies my point…I just didn’t have the interest, passion and energy to sit on the curb for 24 hours, get no sleep, figure out how to sell and get paid on Ebay, then actually set everything up, sell the thing and get it shipped. Ultimately, too little return on my investment.

Earlier this month I was reading an article about the grand opening of the IKEA store in Austin and how people started getting in line 4 DAYS early so they could be among the first 2,500 people in the store who would get “prizes ranging from free yogurt snacks to a $250 gift certificate.” Hmmm…. 4 days equals 96 hours, which means that if I had won the $250 gift certificate that would be valuing my time invested in the project at about $2.60 an hour, not factoring in the couple of days off of work I was burning through. 4 days of losing vacation hours, getting bad sleep, not having any good bathroom facilities, having to figure out a food plan, and having to interact nicely with strangers would not be worth a $250 gift certificate for me. But maybe it would be worth it for the “free yogurt snacks”…

I am always amazed at those shoppers who, the day after Thanksgiving, will hit the stores for the 5:00 a.m. early bird sales specials. And 5:00 is just when the doors open – many queue up for hours beforehand. I have mixed feelings about this one. Most of the come-ons would not be worth me leaving the warm sanctuary of my bed at that ungodly hour - $10 off coupons, $20 microwaves, $100 off bicycles just aren’t that enticing. But there were some of those come-ons this year that were amazing deals, but usually limited to the first relatively few in line - $200 laptops, 1G computers for $500, $150 flat screened TVs. If I was in the market for one of those things, I think I might brave the elements and stake my place in line.

Because I understand that drive – that need really – to get want you want to get and to get a great deal. Nothing beats the great deal. But even great pre-dawn deals come with a cost, and that cost might be dealing with a few elbows from line cutters, excessive waits at the registers or watching as the last widget that you waited so patiently for gets snatched up by a mouthy little woman who looks at you with pure evil glee in her eyes when she feigns surprise and says “Oh…did you want this too? Sorry.” before pushing her way forward to grab a $20 microwave. (But I’m not bitter about my 2003, 5:00 a.m. shopping experience).

Working during Austin City Limits tapings taught me a little bit about line management because there were always those shows where people would begin lining up in the morning for the taping that night. The lines would get so long they would wrap around the building. And the ultimate rub was, it was all a crap shoot for these people, and they knew it. The studio could only hold 350 people. Once the sponsors, donors and band people got their seats, there were only a small number of places left open for the public and it was a first come, first served situation to see who got in. It was genuinely heartbreaking to have to tell that one person – and all of those behind them – that we had reached the limit and they weren’t getting in. I always felt sorriest for that first person in the turn away line because they had waited so long, and they had come sooooo close.

Sometimes the ACL lines would begin forming days before the show – mainly the fans of jam bands like Phish and Widespread Panic. Those dirty little hippies were always nice and polite and more than willing to bake out there in the sun for a few days. We’d feel sorry for them and lug out jugs of water and tell them where the public restrooms were around campus. I was fortunate to see hundreds of great ACL tapings, but the energy was never as high as it was on those nights when those uber fans who had waited in line for days got to get in and see their band. There was one of these shows - I think it was a Panic taping – and the fans were so excited and so pumped up and so full of whatever drugs had been passed around for three days that the floor was literally shaking with their jumping. Most of the camera shots during that shoot are shaking, too, because there was no way to keep them still. Amazing.

When I was 16 years old, we had just moved to Denver and had only been there for a short time when I heard on the radio that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” tour was coming to town. WHAT? I actually now lived in a city where MTV megastars like Michael Jackson came to perform? NO WAY! Remember, having come from Helena, up until that moment the only live concerts I’d ever been to were Captain and Tenille playing at the Montana State Fair and the Up With People Concert at the Civic Center! Montana wasn’t exactly a hot spot on the rock and roll summer tour circuit. It was beyond my comprehension that these fancy-schmancy Denverites could just waltz in to a MICHAEL JACKSON concert like it was no big thing!

Tickets were going on sale the next day at all TicketMaster outlets. I got up my nerve and asked mom and dad if I they would let me go get in line RIGHT NOW. To the end of time, when I am old and toothless and rocking on the front porch of the old folks home, I will always be appreciative that, without hesitation, they said “yes”. They knew that this was way too cool for a 16 year old small town girl to pass up. Of course there were hundreds of rules and regulations about who I could talk to and what I was supposed to do if I needed help (back in the days before cell phones, you know), what exactly I could and couldn’t bring with me, and so on. I was so excited that I just took a blanket and my hard-earned moolah and the folks dropped me off outside of Westgate Mall where I took my place in line and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait.

Because I didn’t know anyone yet, I didn’t have anyone to bring with me, so I was on a solo adventure to secure Michael Jackson tickets. Mom and dad drove by and checked on my about 95 times that day and night and next morning. They’d bring me food and sodas, hold my place in line while I searched out a bathroom, and made sure I was safe, but usually I’d just seem them watching me as they slowly cruised through the mall parking lot. That was a pretty long and chilly night, but at long last 10:00 a.m. rolled around and the tickets went on sale. The line started moving. I had no idea what to expect given that tickets were selling at locations all across the state. I finally made it to the ticket agent and was over-animated when I blurted out “2 seats, please, best available”. That guy poked around on his computer and finally very nonchalantly said “8th Row, Center Stage is the best I got”.



So, do I scoff at those who camp out in lines, or do I participate? Definitely both. It all depends on the deal…

Monday, November 27, 2006

An Office Haiku

An Office Haiku

That thud you just heard?
My big head hitting my desk.
Too sleepy for work.

I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving break with my family. But it’s hard being back at work after four days of fun and play! Luckily I’m busy today but I feel like I could go for a power nap right about now. I’m looking forward to downloading my pictures from the long weekend tonight. I’m sure I’ll post some more thoughts about Thanksgiving later.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Burnin' Down The House

Clifton made a nice (and tasty!) shrimp pasta dish when he was visiting the other night. As the final ingredient, he added about half a cup of tequila to the sauce and lit it on fire for a big flaming ending. He just calmly shook the pan and waited for the big flame to burn out and leave the flavor in the sauce.

But when I saw that flame, I had major flashbacks and fought the urge to grab Dot and run screaming out into the street. Flashbacks of burning down the kitchen in the pink house where I lived with Robert and Eugene.

That house was really cute. I liked it so much and with all of our stuff combined, it looked great. I’ve never been a fan of living with roommates, but as far as that goes, living with Robert and Eugene was the best. We all got along and respected each other’s space. And we enjoyed living in a cute home.

I was alone that night and decided to cook dinner. I put some oil in a pan to sauté some food. As the oil was heating the phone rang. I took the call. Was on the phone for maybe 2 minutes max. Not. Bright. Be ye never so stupid!

When I returned the pan was in flames and before I could get to it the flame leapt up and caught the wooden backsplash on fire. Holy moly. I wasn’t crazy panicked because I thought I could put it out. Of course we didn’t have a fire extinguisher. I soaked a dish towel and tried to smack the fire on the wall but that just seemed to tick it off and fan the flames. As more and more of the wall became engulfed it quickly dawned on me that this fire was now out of my control.

What do I do? What do I do? Stop, drop and roll? Where’s the dog? Do I crawl out under the smoke? What have I done? Why didn’t I pay better attention in school during fire safety week? Does throwing flour on a fire douse it or feed it? Only you can prevent forest fires! Hot! Hot! Hot! What do I do? Robert and Eugene are going to kill me if their fabulous ‘50s furniture goes up in flames. 911! 911! 911!

By the time the flames had climbed from the back splash to the bottom of the wooden cabinets, I had called 911, grabbed the dog and ran outside because I couldn’t take the sight of my kitchen burning up any longer.

Those were a long 5 minutes. I just stood there praying that the whole house wouldn’t go down. It was a rental! Would I be sued? Oh my gosh, should I pull my car out of the garage so it doesn’t burn up and explode? Robert and Eugene are going to kill me. What about my new suede jacket? Oh God, PLEASE SAVE THE NEW SUEDE JACKET!

About that time the full force of the north Austin fire station #11 descended on the cute pink house and they busted through the front door in full gear with axes and hoses and extinguishers. There was shouting and lights flashing and neighbors standing in the street. I just stood there holding Bela in total fear that I had really done it this time.

After what seemed like hours the fire fighters let me in to see the damage. Ohmygosh. It was pitch black because the electricity was out so they had big bright flood lights turned on that gave everything a surreal glow and an eerie feeling. There was smoke and stink everywhere. The fire had taken out almost all of the cabinets above and around the stove. To make sure the fire hadn’t burned through the ceiling above the cabinets the fire fighters had AXED through the roof leaving a huge, gaping hole. And of course everything was dripping in water and white foamy chemicals and the smell was just awful.

Not good.

I eventually gave my report and the guys were pretty nice. I got a couple of lectures about fire safety and the need to always have a fire extinguisher but mostly they just wanted to get out of there. So they took their flood lights and left. I sat there for awhile in the dark just trying to figure out what to do next. Lighting a candle for some light freaked me completely out so I mainly walked around with a flashlight.

When Robert got home around midnight, I didn’t say a word when he walked in. I was silent as he speechlessly looked around and tried to get a grip on the situation. And then… he busted out laughing and gave me a huge hug. That comic relief was like a dam had burst and I broke down in a weepy, wailing, ooey-gooey, charred mess. Robert was a good friend and he was so great talking me off that burning ledge that night, promising me that some day I would see some humor in the situation.

And in the end, it was manageable. The landlord didn’t freak. I paid the deductible. Our renter’s insurance paid for a service to come in and clean up the mess and repair the kitchen. We had to live for a week or so with giant, industrial sized fans blowing all of the time to dry things out and get rid of the smoke smell. It was like living in a construction zone for about 6 weeks, but it was finally all repaired and back to useable. We joked that maybe all of this trial and tribulation and $250 deductible was worth it because we got all new appliances.

I am forever grateful that the situation was contained as well as it was. We all know it could have ended up much, much worse. But I can say with confidence that I will probably always leave cooking with a flame to the professionals like Clifton. Just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Head Out On The Highway

My coworker’s son is taking Driver’s Ed and she tells funny stories about his endeavors. Until talking to her I’ve never really thought before how there must be nothing quite as terrifying for a parent as watching your kid watch you in their rear view mirror as they set off in the car, on their own, for the wide open road. Gulp.

Like everyone else, getting my driver’s license was a milestone and, as is the case with most milestones in my life, it wasn’t without its trials and tribulations.

Driver’s Ed was torturous because there were three of us kids in the neon-yellow training car plastered everywhere with STUDENT DRIVER signs, with Coach Tuss strapped into the passenger seat holding his clip board and telling us what to do.

I was never very confident about doing anything in front of others and having to shift into first gear after being stopped at a red light while going up a steep hill was made all the more mortifying by having boys in the car. I bet I stalled on that light on that vertical hill about seven times and was getting more and more rattled as cars were stacking up behind me as the green light kept turning red. Coach Tuss kept saying “give it more gas, Holliday, give it more gas”, so in embarrassed desperation I finally stomped the gas to the floor before releasing the clutch and we burned rubber and squealed off like a bat out of hell through that steep light with Kieran Murphy in the back seat holding up a hand written note to the window that said “HELP! SAVE ME”.

Poor dad tried to teach me to better drive a standard, but that ended up with me in tears and him on his knees in the passenger seat, reaching over and holding my feet with his hands trying to get me to feel how to shift more smoothly. Torture.

With months of build up and practice, I passed the written portion of the test with ease, but manged to fail the driving portion. I remember specifically it was because of parallel parking and, of all things, 4-way stops. That 4-way stop was super busy that day and I completely choked not remembering who in the world was supposed to go next. After about 60 seconds, the instructor leaned over and quietly said, “You can go now.”

I don’t think I’ve ever felt much lower than I did that night shortly after my sixteenth birthday after failing my driving test! Ugh.

But on the second try, I passed and have been a bonafide driver ever since.

And, knock on wood, I’ve always been a pretty good driver. I’ve never caused any accidents. The couple of fender benders I’ve been involved in were always someone else’s fault. However, my first driving disaster is a memorable one.

Mom was such a great sport. Many days, she’d let me drive her car to school, an old-school red Volkswagon beetle. We lived in the country and school was about a 25-30 minute drive, or so, which was awesome for someone who was just discovering their freedom behind the wheel. The set up to this story is this…our front yard was on a much-lower level than the house. Imagine the house built on the ground, but about 10 yards from the front of the house there was a large drop off (about 6-8 feet) to the yard level. I hadn’t had my license very long so was still a bit skittish about the whole thing. Dad had already gone on to work on this day.

I was leaving early for some reason so it was still kind of dark, the sun just coming up so I had the headlights on. As many times as I replayed it in my mind, I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I managed to back out of the garage too quickly and didn’t turn in time, so I backed straight over that ledge. I mean straight over. I managed to slam on the brakes at such a time that instead of the car continuing to back onto the lawn, it stopped in the perfect vertical position. There I sat, sitting in the VW as if it were a rocket about to launch, with my headlights beamingly brightly up into space.

I was scared to death. I was afraid that the car was going to tip over either on the roof if the front end tipped past 90 degrees, or to the side if I tried to open the door and get out. So I just turned off the engine and just sat there in a panic.

For some reason mom was at home – she hadn’t gone to work so I started yelling and she eventually came out to see what the fuss was and when she looked out the garage all she could see were the headlights beaming up into the sky. I think she was pretty mystified at my stupidity. She tried to help but was unsure about the tipping thing, too.

“CALL DAD! CALL DAD! CALL DAD! CALL DAD!” Yep, that has pretty much been my answer to most of my life challenges. I panic. Dad figures things out. I freak out. Dad calmly finds a solution. So mom called dad with a “you’re not going to believe this, but…” and the poor guy had to turn around and drive 30 minutes back out to the country to rescue me.

Those were a long 30 minutes. I just sat there. In the rocket. Waiting for it to launch. Convinced that at any minute the whole things was going to tip. It’s not that the tip would have hurt me – I could have strapped in and sustained any bouncing around. But I wasn’t TOTALLY sure it wouldn't hurt, and it would have dented up the car, which I didn’t want.

Dad finally got there and surveyed the situation. He was partly bemused and partly concerned. He decided that we had to risk me getting out. To balance the car, he carefully opened the driver’s side door and I kind of fell out and scooted down the embankment as he jumped in. The car teetered a little bit as I hauled A out of the way. Dad didn’t sit there long. He started the car up and hooked a hard left. Luckily the front tires swung down instead of back so they grabbed the ledge and he managed to get the car to take a quick, hard, fast turn so it didn’t have time to tip over. Once he turned it, gravity was back on our side and he was able to drive the car onto the lawn then around to where the rise was lower so he could get it back on the level of the house.

It was a sight to behold. Disaster averted and I’m seriously impressed my parents ever gave me the keys to the car again.

Better luck to my coworker’s son!

Monday, November 20, 2006


Loving my new MacBook Photo Booth. Loving my friend Clifton who helped me set up my beautiful new MacBook. Without his help, I would have made it as far as opening the box.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In the Big Inning...

This update was in today’s Chronicle of Philanthropy enewsletter:

“The Marine Reserves’ Toys for Tots program has turned down an offer of 4,000 battery-powered Jesus dolls that quote Bible verses, the Associated Press reports.”

I find this funny in about a million different ways. And this coming from me, a woman with a Jesus figurine night light.

But man oh man, back in her prime Mammaw would have gone berserk for a battery-powered Jesus doll that quotes Bible verses.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's Time

Since I’m unsure when Time’s annual “Person of the Year” issue comes out, I’m casting my vote now.

I haven’t slaved over this one so there’s probably some huge, glaringly obvious person I forgot to consider, but after giving it the thinking time it took me to get from home to work this morning, I’ve decided to vote for…

Warren Buffet.

The gazillionaire who pledged $30 b... b...b…billion to the Gates Foundation. Combined with the Gates money already in place, that foundation will have something like $75 billion at their disposal. That blows my mind. Ever since that announcement was made over the summer, I’ve wanted to write about it, but I’m not quite there with my thoughts, yet, so for now I’ll just say that with that kind of wealth, true and lasting social change is possible.

You hear people give lofty homage to “stamping out hunger” or “eradicating AIDS” or “ending poverty” but for the first time ever, I’m beginning to think that something on par with those ideals might actually be possible. When you combine that kind of wealth with the entrepreneurial spirit that is Bill Gates (and people like Warren Buffet) and you focus those forces on a social ill…I believe that great things can happen.

Because philanthropists won Time’s annual honor last year (Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates) it’s possible that they’ll go a different direction for the sake of keeping it diverse, but I think they need to give the honor to Mr. Buffet for, quite literally, giving it all away.

More on philanthropy on a different day…

There are some other obvious contenders for Time’s Person of the Year, aren’t there?

Donald Rumsfeld. And as much as I think the ground underneath me might open up and suck me into the dungeon of hell for typing this, Nanci Palosi. Or maybe the Google guys or the YouTube guys since they’ve been all over the news in the last year.

While I’m not necessarily sure he’s done a lot this year you know that Barak Obama is somewhere on the list. I get this real feeling that he’s going to be our president some day. And maybe Hillary will grace the cover, but she hasn’t done anything particularly earth shattering this year, plus Time will probably wait and bestow her that honor the first year she’s in the Oval Office.

Wouldn’t it be great if Time went gonzo and gave it to someone we wouldn’t expect? Like the Pakistani guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize for giving micro loans to the poorest of the poor people. Or to Emmitt Smith for tangoing his heart out. Or to “bloggers” everywhere for creating an internet revolution. Or to Elmo for making the world a better place.

Who will it be?

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Salute

Thank you, veterans, and thank you to those currently serving in the military.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Looking For a Sign

I represent my employer in a nascent organization, the Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition. This is a very ambitious effort that the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and the Jr. League are taking on to bring together all of the literacy providers in Oklahoma county. A strength in numbers kind of thing. Looking for a way to share resources and capitalize on partnerships between the organizations. All fighting for the same goal – to help people learn how to read.

One of the members of this coalition is an OKC pediatrician. I sat near her at the meeting yesterday and was in awe. She was fresh scrubbed and young. Quite a bit younger than me. Her pager went off and she had to leave. She was leaving to go save a baby. To save…a

There was another guy at the meeting. He’s actually one of the key players leading this coalition. Young, vibrant, enthusiastic, funny. He stands on a fake leg after stepping on a road side bomb in Iraq a couple of years ago. 18 years in the military, ranked a major, ended for him with that one misstep, but he is as committed to teaching kids how to read as he was leading his platoon into enemy territory.

Another woman looked to be about my age. Really stunningly beautiful. You can just tell she’s a wealthy, stay-at-home mom who “volunteers” her time. I’ve worked with a lot of these people before and often their volunteering is just something they do to fill the few hours between their pilates class and lunch at the country club. Not this woman. She’s head of her kid’s PTA, she tutors kids five days a week, she works daily at a homeless shelter, she assists a literacy advocacy group… she’s basically working to kick illiteracy in the ass, all on her own time.

A woman who is spearheading this coalition effort is wonderfully flawless. You just know she’s the type of person who thinks of every singly thing. Nothing will be forgotten. Nothing will be unplanned. No stone will be left unturned. She knows her stuff and she is gracious and relentless.

I sit in awe of these people and all of those who are driven and committed to their causes. I envy them. I think that they must be happy to be truly passionate about something…to know their purpose. To be energetic and engaged in their thing…whatever their thing is. I need to find my thing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Where Ugly Lives

Big item trash pick-up day has become a monthly neighborhood ritual I dread but can’t help looking forward to a little bit, either. Just when I think there is no way that one month can be topped, the next month will bring forth even more outstanding hideousness.

Big item trash pick-up day gives people license to drag out their biggest, nastiest, dirtiest, UGLIEST, most broken down old couches, chairs, mattresses, appliances and electronics for display on the street corner, in anticipation of the poor trash collectors’ arrival. And people in my fringy neighborhood like to PREPARE for big item trash pick-up day. They’ll usually start pulling stuff out from the bowels of hell’s model home around the beginning of the month, even though the trucks won’t roll through until the third Wednesday of the month. So on our walks, Dot and I get to enjoy these gross alters to the trash gods up close and personally for a couple of weeks each month.

It is AMAZING the kind of crap that people have in their homes. Who lets something get that disgusting before throwing it away? I mean, YUCK! I’ve seen toilets and bathtubs and refrigerators that looks like science petri dishes gone nuclear, and dust covered, gutted ancient electronics that you know haven’t worked in decades. But the furniture is always my favorite – butt ugly floral couches with the springs punching through the arm rests and recliners from 1965 where the foot rest is broken and the seat cushion is missing. I wish I had been taking pictures of all of the ugly couches that have been thrown away in my neighborhood in the last year. 19th Street OKC is like a magnet for the sofas of the damned.

And most of the houses where I see these sights are cute. I certainly understand there might be some poorer people who don’t have the money for new stuff, but these things are usually in front of those nice, well-maintained houses with pretty manicured rose bushes in their yards.

Seriously. Where do people get these aberrations and why weren’t they thrown out on big item trash pick-up day about thirty years ago? My guess – they’re pack rats. Like my grandmother – Mammaw – who at one point had THREE full-sized sofas, ONE love seat and TWO recliners in the living room of her double wide trailer. It gets to a point where they have to throw something overboard to make room for the newer junk they purchased at last weekend’s yard sales.

Even better than seeing what people are going to drag outside every month, is watching what people are going to take home from the other person’s yard. When I’ve been out with Dot early in the morning of big item trash pick-up, the neighborhood is like a bee hive of activity with people slowly driving their trucks from one house to the next rummaging through the crap on the curbs. The fact that someone really does take home that hot pink ceiling fan with two missing blades and no wiring mystifies me.

If it’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then there are some folks living high on the hog in central Oklahoma City!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day in OKC

I voted.

I voted because it’s my right and duty as an American to do so. So many have given so much protecting my democratic freedoms and I take that seriously. With voter registration card in hand, I found my polling place and I voted. I always feel like there should be refrains of God Bless America playing when one enters their polling place. And after I put my ballot into the automated sorter, I clamored for the little “I Voted” sticker that I will wear proudly today, like a badge of honor.

Unfortunately, I didn’t vote because I really care about any of the candidates. I’ve sort of lost faith in the lot of them. And that isn’t fair, is it, to punish them all for the sins of a few, but it’s not always clear to me anymore who is the good guy and who isn’t. I did have a fairly strong opinion about the Oklahoma governor and one of the candidates for the U.S. Congress, so those votes were important to me.

And, I did think it would be entertaining to cast my vote for one of the state laws on the ballot seeking a constitutional amendment to allow liquor to be sold on Election Day. Apparently, 100 years ago when the constitution was written and this law was established, there was some evidence that politicians were buying votes by promising a round of drinks to all those who voted in their favor. Pretty funny. Oklahoma seems to be the land of antiquated laws. It was only a few days ago, on November 1, that it became legal to give and receive a tattoo in Oklahoma (I can breathe easier now that I’m not constantly looking over my tattooed right shoulder for Johnny Law).

So now it’s sit back and watch. I love the drama of election night with all of the coverage and analysis. And with this election it seems that no one knows for sure what the national picture will look like when all of the votes shake loose.

Let the games begin.

Monday, November 06, 2006

And The Emmy Goes To...

What is your favorite TV series of all time?

I know…a hard question. It’s made a little bit easier by not including great sporting events, mini-series (watching Roots when I was ten still ranks up there as one of my top 20 great life experiences) or other one-offs like those awesome after school specials (who can ever forget John Travolta as the boy in the bubble) or televised movies (Disney’s Magic Kingdom rocked). Stick to television series.

Do I go waaaay back and pick Sesame Street, for all the obvious and wonderful reasons? Or maybe Zoom. Lord knows I loved Zoom. If nothing else, Zoom taught me that Boston, Mass’ zip code is 0-2-1-3-4 and that Bernadette was the master at doing that arm fan thing. I was also a huge fan of Land of the Lost – man, those sleestax guys freaked me out.

Around that age, I was equally enamored with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. That old Marlin Perkins guys was great. And has any sponsor’s name ever been as synonymous with a show as this one? As a fundraiser, I know that is like the golden goose egg of sponsorship underwriting.

For nostalgia’s sake, I could pick I Love Lucy or the Andy Griffith Show. Both great classics that I love so much.

Or do I pick sentimental favorites Little House on the Prairie or Fame? I logged a lot of hours on both of those shows in my tweens and teens and LOVED them both. Whether it was Pa, who had the answers to all of life’s troubles and that giant laugh, or Laura’s pervy husband Manny (I mean come on, wasn’t he like 30 and she 12 when they married?), I loved every single character on Little House on the Prairie as if they were my own family members. And when Fame’s brooding Leroy would kick ass and fight back against the oppression of the evil math teacher who was keeping him from the big audition by breaking out into big, funky pirouettes on the tables in the Fame school lunch room? Awesome stuff.

Do I go campy/obsessive and pick that USA Network Original “The Big Easy”? What? You’ve never heard of The Big Easy? Oh mon cher, no one was hotter than that babe-o-licious Remy McSwain. That guy could solve the crime in the bayou, whip up the perfect alligator sauce piquant, play the sax at the rockin’ blues bar, Southern sass talk the good-ole-boy police chief, and heat up the boudoir all with the smoothness and kick of a sweet mint julep. I LOVED THE BIG EASY.

Would I try and satiate my universal curiosity and go for something like NOVA? That show is simply amazing and most times it’s a little trippy because you realize how many amazingly smart people there are in the world figuring out things that most of us can’t even contemplate on the most miniscule of level.

I could go for one of my classic sitcom favorites like Happy Days, Facts of Life, Cheers or Murphy Brown. Mash is way, way, way up high on that list. Or maybe an hour-long drama like ER or a dramady like Star Trek Next Generation. Yes, Star Trek Next Generation is awesome and if you don’t think so than you haven’t watched it.

Or do I go more modern day with House or Arrested Development?

So, after spending way too much time thinking about this, I’ve decided that if I had to boil it down to my one all time favorite TV show, I think I would pick…..

Northern Exposure!

I have a real love for it all – the unique, oddball characters and the way their personalities developed over time, the quirky story lines, the unexpected plot changes, its sweetness and heart, the creative use of a wide range of great music, and the beautiful Alaskan setting. It was, quite simply, a cool show.

So, imagine my surprise last week when I stumbled on an episode of the new series Men in Trees. What the heck? The more I watched, the more unhinged I became. It’s a poorly written, less interesting, much shallower version of Northern Exposure. I mean, come on…the central character is a brassy hipster from New York (can you say Dr. Joel Fleischman!) who is fighting her obvious attraction to the gorgeous local (Maggie!). The main gathering place is a restaurant/bar (the Brick!) with the level-headed, even tempered bar keep (Holling!) who steers us through conversations with all of the town’s characters that include the young harlot with a heart (Shelley!), a weird old woodsy guy (Adam!) and the New Yorker’s side kick (Ed!). I mean give me a break, one of the main plot points even revolves around the local radio station DJ’s morning show (HELLO – CHRIS IN THE MORNING!).

Now believe me, I know that there is nothing new about the networks copying the formats of other networks’ popular shows. This is certainly long-standing de rigueur if there ever was such a thing. Cop shows copy cop shows that spawn cop shows. One show about the oval office spins off three more. One reality show started an entire reality show industry. One hospital show births clones on every network. I get it. But I think it’s because these Men in Trees people are messing with my favorite show of all time – a true original – and trying to bring it back to life years later that is so irritating. And to copy the format so exactly, down to the specific characters, is simply…lame.

No matter how hard highly paid network writers try, and no matter how closely they plagiarize the concept and scripts of shows that have gone before them, there will never really be two Fonzies, there will never be two Hawkeyes, and there will never be two Chris in the Mornings!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Accounting for Taste

So, what are they saying about my fabulous ‘50s Statue of Liberty Lamp?

And what does it say about me that this is one of my very favorite possessions?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

So, what’s in a name?

Lori Leigh Holliday. For the most part, I like my name. I like the alliteration of all of the L’s. Growing up with “Holliday” as a last name was a little bit tough but it didn’t take long for the mockers to realize that saying “Lori Christmas” or “Lori Valentine’s Day” really just wasn’t that funny. I like the spelling of my middle name because it’s weird. A plain name with a weird spelling – mom said it’s a tribute to Janet Leigh of Psycho fame. “Lori” is okay. Nothing great like if it had been Loreal or Laurel…but just regular Lori.

Pretty funny when you consider that as she was going in to the hospital mom said my name was going to be Amy Jo, but coming out it was Lori Leigh. I think I would have liked Amy Jo, too.

My brother’s name – Matthew Russell Holliday – is a great name. I like it. It just sounds like a western name, paying tribute to his Montana birthplace.

Mom and Dad’s names are fun – Alice Ann and Ronnie Glenn. Mom has said she’s never really liked her name, but I think it’s cute and old fashioned. And while she might be “Alice” to those who know her in Montana and Colorado, she is, without a doubt, “Alice Ann” to those in the great state of Texas. Dad’s name is not Ronald. He is Ronnie. On his birth certificate it says “Ronnie”. Just like his sister’s says “Peggy” and not Margaret. I guess that’s what his parents – Willie Doyce and Bessie Mae – liked.

Willie Doyce and Bessie Mae. Yikes.

Whenever anyone pokes fun or remarks at his name actually being “Ronnie”, Dad comes back with this great little monologue that I’ve heard a hundred times, but it makes me laugh every time. It goes like this…

Wellllllllll, if your name is Jerusha Emaline and you are called Roo-she, and you marry Erie Thomas and he is called Ee-yer, and your name is Martha Selia Celina and you are called Lean-er, and you marry Daniel Polk who is called Poke - and they have Bessie Mae and Willie Doyce - their children’s' names of Peggy and Ronnie don't sound quite so peculiar do they?

Ronnie then usually ends this with what is perhaps his funniest line of all time, and what will surely be the subtitle to the book he's been authoring for over 30 years, The 10 Damndest People I've Ever Known, "My tribe, my tribe..."...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Best Medicine

The day a couple of years ago when I saw this picture might be the last time I spontaneously laughed so hard that I couldn’t stop. I seriously couldn’t control myself.

You just have to know Betsy, Beth’s sister, and you also have to know Beth really well to appreciate how funny their whole interaction was. Through this brief interlude, both of their personalities came shining through with wonderful, colorful, hilarious force.

I am forever grateful that Betsy has a good sense of humor and gave a copy of these priceless pictures to me. She's awesome.

Betsy: Hey ya’ll. William and I were at the mall the other day and I thought it would be fun to get our pictures taken in one of those photo booths. Do you want a copy? (Hands picture strip to Beth and me).

Beth and Lori Bust out laughing to the point that we can’t catch our breath.

Betsy looks perplexed.

Betsy: What’s so funny, ya’ll?

Beth: Damn, Betsy, it looks like you just got out of prison!

Betsy: It isn’t that bad!

Beth: Oh yes it is. Your eyes are all dark and closed and you’re staring like a zombie. You look like a crack mom!

Tears are now streaming down my face, I’m laughing so hard.

Beth: And what’s with William picking his nose?

Betsy: Well, I didn’t see him doing that until the pictures came out. I just kept telling him to “SMILE WILLIAM! SMILE!" But I guess he was preoccupied.

I am now down for the count.

Beth: Betsy, with these pictures, you and William could be the poster children for white trash America.

Betsy: I don’t know. I think they’re kind of cute.