I Calls ‘em as I Sees ‘em

originally posted August 20, 2010

People are so peculiar.   I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.   If it weren’t for those beings who are way off kilter then we’d have no yardstick with which to measure our own degree of normalcy.   Even though we all want to stand out from the crowd whether in business or fashion or beauty or intelligence . . . we don’t want to cross that thin line into absurdity.  

Oh come on!  I can actually hear your heads shaking.  You know it’s true.   We can all remember some kid in elementary that made his mark in the annals of history by doing some THING that made us laugh, cry, sigh audibly, squirm in our seats or gag.  Something none of us on the rational end of the yardstick would be caught doing.   And those kids will forever be remembered for that THING they did.  

For instance, I knew a girl who would repeat everything she said in a whisper just like that kid Brik on “The Middle.”   She would say “I’m going to the pool today.”  And then she’d follow it up in a whisper with, “Going to the pool today,”  like she was telling you a secret.   Conversations with her were long and confusing.  I still refer to her as the Whisperer.   Then there was the kid my husband knew that would ride his bike down the street of their subdivision with big marijuana plants in one arm.  Plants he had just harvested from his carefully tended garden on the neighborhood hillside.   His moniker had been, and still is to this day, Ed the Head.  

When I met my husband and realized he used the same method of identification that I presumed to have perfected, it sealed the deal.  I had already realized he had marriage potential when I discovered that he loved “Clash of the Titans” (the original with Harry Hamlin, of course)  and “Excalibur”  but who would have guessed he shared my adolescent communication skills?!?   

 Only recently have I formally I coined the term bit.ly alias, defined as “the infantile method of identifying a person by his outlandish behaviors or physical traits.”

For those who are unfamiliar, bit.ly is an application used in Twitter, Facebook, etc that automatically shortens a lengthy URL (that would be a website address for the completely ill informed)   into one that is 8-ish characters long and looks more like hieroglyphics.  The shorter URL will still link users to the website to which you’re directing them but it has an added benefit.  The shorter web address means that Tweeters and FB users don’t waste as many of their precious allotted 140-characters per message on the website address alone.   And that means we can all share more of our useless thoughts with strangers!  Brilliant!  

So, thebit.ly alias works the same way in real life applications.  For instance, let’s say you and your spouse frequent your local Piggly Wiggly grocery store.  And for the sake of the story, let’s imagine that there’s a gal from the neighborhood who frequents the very same Piggly Wiggly. You both recognize her because it’s now 2010 and she’s sporting a tall, impossible-to-miss-60‘s-style-beehive-hairdo with a ladybug barrett.  One afternoon your cart  accidentally collides with her cart and your chocolate gets on her peanut butter, thereby creating the Reese Cup.   Actually, that’s a story for another day . . . . but your carts do collide.   Later, you’re recanting the story to your spouse, whose insensitivity allowed him to stay home, guilt-free, watching the WVU game while you selflessly sacrifice your personal time to do the grocery shopping alone.  Instead of saying, “My cart collided with that lady with the tall, impossible-to-miss-60’s-style-behive-hairdo with the ladybug barret,” you simply say, “My cart collided with Beehive Ladybug.”   And for time eternal, she will be referred to as Beehive Ladybug.  

Ric and I can recall a number of people over the years whose legal names we never knew but are cemented in our memory banks thanks to the bit.ly alias:
  • There was theHuman Broom.  She was the girl at our gym in Baltimore who bleachedand permed her hair so much that it resembled an overused Sorghum Broom.
  • Then there was the Pink Marshmallow Man.  That guy worked out at   ur gym in Atlanta.  He was so puffed up from steroid use that he looked like the Marshmallow man from “Ghost Busters”.  Add to that his addiction to the tanning bed and you get a sunburned Pink Marshmallow Man.
  • And one we’ll never forget is The Man Woman.  Ric’s hair still curls at the mention.   Our first winter as a married couple.  We lived in a townhouse-style apartmenbuilding with a row of parking spaces that ran the length of the building.  Each of us had 2 spaces but none of them were specifically assigned although we all used the spots in frontof our own unit.   It came a snow one evening and Ric got up early the next day to dig our cars out so we could go to work.   When he returned home that night he found an unfamiliar car in his usual spot – the ONLY parking spot that was shoveled clean, mind you.   We lived in the unit on the north end of the building.  A little later that evening we saw a beast of a creature exit the unit on the south end of the building – 8 townhouses and 16 parking spaces south of us – make the walk to the unfamiliar car in Ric’s spot, remove something and head back south.  Ric opened the door and stepped out to speak to this person about vacating our spot.  As the creature turned to us, we were met with 6’-4” of someone halfway between Jaws from “The Spy Who Loved Me” and  Maude.  It took us a while to digest the fact that this was actually a woman.  Not a woman who used to be a man and not a man dressed as a woman.  A real big, scary woman.   By now, you’ve guessed that she refused to move her car and neither of us was willing to get in a fist fight with The Kraken.  So we trudged back inside, grumbling and she was dubbed The Man Woman from that moment on.
  • And most recently, while power walking with the dogstrocities along the lake shore, we turned a corner and encountered a little lady, standing, bent over at the waist, slapping both of her thighs with her hands repeatedly for an extended length of time.  She was still slapping away as we rounded a corner out of sight 2 blocks down the street.  And would you believe we ran into that Crazy Knee Slapper doing it again last night?!?!
I’m well aware that my behavior could be considered questionable.  It’s not something I would have advertised in the past.  But then Seinfeld came along and he made a fortune insulting anyone outside his immediate circle of friends.  He dubbed such memorable characters as Man Hands, The Close Talker,  Soup Nazi and Crazy Joe (Davola).  

And then Michael Scott took us to a new level!  In Season 5, Episode 14 of “The Office” entitled “The Lecture Circuit – Part I” MIchael takes it upon himself to travel to the various branches and share with them his secrets of success.  At one unsuspecting branch, he explains the importance of really knowing your client in order to sell to them.  And I quote, “That is why I have asked you to go around and tell me your names.  I have an amazing mnemonic device, by which I have memorized all of your names.”  And then he points at various people throughout the room, identifying each of them, “Shirty, mole, lazy eye, Mexico, baldy, sugar boobs, black woman.”   And if that weren’t enough, he explains further that he has taken a unique part of each of them and used that to help memorize their names.  When Karen reprimands his technique as insulting,  MIchael responds, “But it works.”

And that’s good enough for me.  It just works.  The bit.ly alias is the perfect tool that allows one to skip the unnecessary prattle in order to get to the heart of the point more efficiently.   Imagine the amount of information we could share in a day if we could apply this to other areas of our conversations!  

I often wonder what bit.ly alias others might assign me.   Like the Crazy Knee Slapper, for instance.  When I passed her last weekend, I was wearing my hair in a pony tail on top of my head with ginormous round white sunglasses, a bright pink golf visor (something I swore I’d never be caught wearing in public but is quite effective at keeping those harmful rays off my face), a white Motley Cru tank top with black bra and a strap falling off one arm, chapstick stuck in one side of my bra and an ipod tucked in the other side so I could easily stick my hand down between my goods to moisturize my lips or to switch songs at any time.  I had on green soffe shorts over a pair of bike shorts and a white washcloth stuck down the back of my waist band so I could yank it out and wipe the dew from my face. In my right hand I was carrying a gaseous plastic poop bag while I chased one dog and drug the other behind me, all the while barking non-stop, while I yelled “Quiet!  Quiet!  Quiet” over and over to no avail.  There’s really so much fodder that even I couldn’t narrow it down to one simple bit.ly alias.
I think the moral of the story is this:   Do your own thing.  Dance to your own beat and feel comfortable doing it.   But beware of that invisible doorway that lead to the Land of the Lost because inevitably, crazy sticks like glue.  And there are no pylons to lead you back from that pocket universe once someone with an adolescent mentality spots your weakness and moves in for the kill!

#02 Dogs Rule, Kids Drool: Laws that SHOULD be if Congress Had the Good Sense to Listen to Me

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originally posted May 20, 2010   Petey & Tina Belle,   2010   I love getting up on a beautiful Saturday morning during spring and heading out with the dogs to grab a coffee at Starbucks.  We sit outside, reading … Continue reading

Petey Picks: "American Movie"

original post – May 11, 2010



Last weekend was the start of the annual Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in  Toronto.   Stop!  Don’t click on the x!  I know what I just said could make pigs plunge headlong over the edge of a cliff but I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

Hot Docs is the largest documentary film festival in North America.  It runs for 11 days showing 170 movies from 40 countries.  Audience members are given a ticket on which to judge each film viewed.  I know I didn’t redeem myself with that last bit of info either but bear with me . . . .

So, being filmies, Ric and I jumped at the opportunity to attend.  Unfortunately, without our Chuck Taylors we jumped late and low.   We spent tens of minutes perusing the catalog of films, carefully selecting those that were most socially profound . . . and the ones that were showing on Sunday afternoon or Saturday evening after 4:00 . . . and playing at Cumberland 4 theater . . . . and offering Jots at the snack bar. The world was our oyster. 

We went online to buy tickets for the narrative of Benazir Bhutto’s remarkable life.  Sold out.  We tried again with a powerful story of the West Beirut survivors of a 1982 Israeli bombing.  Sold out.  The unfinished Nazi propaganda film about Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto.  Sold out.  “My Perestroika”, the trials of people raised behind the Iron Curtain.  Sold out.

How could this have happened?!  It was still a good 2 days before the festival!  Could there be that many other pseudo intellectuals living in Toronto?  And then, a glimmer of hope.  Nestled in amongst the do-gooders, tree huggers and truth seekers, we found a film so entertaining that we were laughing out loud before the opening credits.    We found “American Movie”.

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1999 “American Movie”  tells the tale of Mark Borchardt from Milwaukee.  Mark is a horror film devotee from way back and has a history of making his own brand of homespun horror films with inspiration from the likes of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (the original version of course) and “Night of the LIving Dead”.  Mark is low on funds, hounded by the IRS, his ex-wife, and the local phone company and yet, he still thinks it’s a good idea to resurrect and complete “Coven”, one of his many abandoned short film projects.  And with the help of his rag tag team of local actors they set off down the yellow brick road toward Oz.  

Mark stars in the film as well as producing, directing, and editing.  He’s in his late 20’s, living with his parents, drinking beer and smoking pot to help release his creative juices and avoid seeking legitimate employment.  And that may explain why his fashion choices appears to be leftovers from 1975.  He regales the audience with diatribes on dead folks, relationships, and his own spirituality which is described as a happy blend of 1/2 Christianity and 1/2 Satanism.  

Mark’s right-hand-man is Mike, a sweet, childlike fellow who looks suspiciously like Hagrid or maybe that dude from Kansas (my first concert and one of the great rock bands of all time).  Mike is a supposed reformed drug abuser and alcoholic although the reformed part seems a little far fetched.  Giving him the benefit of the doubt I can only assume that he was one reefer too late when he decided to give up the habit.  Mike shares a poignant tale of an acid overdose that lands him in the hospital.  When he wakes from his trip down Psychadellic Lane he recalls a dream he had while he was out about a baggie he had on his person containing his last hit of blotter’s acid.  Face lights up!  It’s not just a dream.  He gets out of bed to retrieve his hit, hoping to enjoy it during his relaxing stay at the hospital.   Plans are foiled when the door swings open and in walks Mom . . . . . with the baggie in her hand.  I’m not sure if that was the last straw that turned Mike around but I would hope it might have been a clue.

Then there’s Uncle Bill.   I think Uncle Bill is about 150 years old and he hates parting with a buck.  Apparently he’s saving for the afterlife, hoping to use it as a downpayment on some finer digs.  He’s living in a dilapidated trailer but appears to be the only dude in town with enough money and dementia to fund Mark’s film projects.  Uncle Bill is a crotchety old guy who reminds Mark at every turn that he’s an idiot but still hears the sound of applause and can’t resist playing a part in the film.  About 64 takes later, Uncle Bill successfully delivers his single line.

Look, I could go on . . . and on . . . and on.  The characters – and by characters, I mean the real life people who take part in this debacle – are monumentally delirious, hilarious and unbalanced, but you just can’t help but love them.  They’re problem solvers (note: scene where Mark has to ram another character’s head thru a kitchen cabinet door),  fun lovers (note:  scene where Mark gives 150-year-old Uncle Bill a bath and gets him drunk on Peppermint Schnapps) and philosophers (note:  every scene wherein Mark opens his mouth).    If nothing else, you’ll feel better about your own dysfunctional family after an hour and a half with the exploits of the Milwaukee Borchardts and their troupe of nutty players.
This is a Golden Macaroon in my book and one that will soon have a place of honor in my own DVD collection!

“American Movie” is available on Netflix.com  as well as it’s Canadian counterpart Zip.ca.  

#01 Cell Phone Sanitation: Laws that SHOULD be if Congress Had the Good Sense to Listen to Me

Our Neighborhood Watch program in Atlanta partners with the local police department to scare away the bad guys in a handful of our neighboring zip codes.   Every few weeks we get a newsletter with a chilling update on the local shenanigans and I’m like Navin R. Johnson with the phone book when I see that newsletter pop up on email!  I view it as an opportunity to network with “The Man”, hob knob with the men in blue, rub shoulders with the Old Guard.  See I have evidence of holes in our country’s rules of government – areas where we can improve civility and mutual respect – and I aim to howl like a banshee for the “Laws that SHOULD be if Congress had the Good Sense to LIsten to Me” 
But I digress.  Back to the newsletter.  This week’s most disturbing incident took place at a doctor’s office of all places.  Despite the sign that clearly read “Please turn cell phones off”, some yahoo takes a call and turns up the volume on his outside voice disturbing the other patients in the waiting room.   It must have seemed like it was happening in slow motion like in the movies.  A man with a deadly glare rises from the shadows in the corner, hand in pocket, sprinting across the great divide of the waiting 
room, jacket tails fluttering in the wind.  He slowly draws his hand from the pocket and points his weapon of choice maliciously at the offender squirting him squarely in the eye with hand sanitizer!  The authorities are called for crowd control.  The squirter is forced to hug the loud talker.  Not really but he did have to apologize.   
My favorite part of the story is the officer’s moral; “Remember, it’s all fun and games until someone gets sanitized in the eye.”  Brilliant.
Here’s my problem with that incident.  I’m on the side of the squirter.  You see, I aspire to be the squirter and, frankly, I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of it in the first place.  Have you ever calculated how much time you lose in a day due to the rudeness of other people who are on their cell phones in heated discussions about today’s tennis match, the tacky dress Sue Ann wore to the PTA meeting, the neighbors who are having an affair, the dog that pooped on someone’s property?   Interestingly, those aren’t conversations that most men have, are they?  Well now you’re getting my point.   
In one week, I was delayed at the grocery, missed a turn light, missed several green lights, was nearly rear-ended at a stop sign, had my bag knocked off my arm and the contents spilled, had to wait on a bathroom stall while someone finished a conversation IN the stall . . . . . . all by women who couldn’t put down their freaking cell phones long enough to live life.   I calculated that, if I could have had all the time back that was stolen from me by these women, I could have had a pedicure, cooked dinner, had a client meeting, taken a hot bubble bath or walked the dogs, all things that I had to squeeze into an already overcrowded day.  
Now, my friends will tell you that I’m the absolute worst at answering my rate of call returns is even more dismal.   But honestly it’s just because I’m so darn polite.  Actually I just hate to talk on the phone in public so I leave the phone in the car or bury it in the bottom of my bag.  I make a mental note that someone has called and am enthusiastic about returning the call later when I’m not juggling files and car keys.  Unfortunately as my day progresses and I lose more and more time to foolish public cell phone gossip, I’ve lost any free time to return calls to my own friends. 
So, if Congress had the good sense to listen to me, i would institute Laws that Should Be #01 as follows:
Women who are not working shall have limited rights to public use of cell phones. Said rights apply to the following situations:
  1.   A kid misses the bus, needs a ride, gets in trouble with the law
  2.   Emergency situations
  3.   Receiving life altering medical reports from a doctor
  4.   The interior designer needs an answer to a question
  5.   When running late to an appointment
  6.   Husband or significant other misses the bus needs a ride, gets in trouble with the law
Women who are not working shall not be permitted public use of cell phones to discuss tennis, neighbors, poor taste in another’s clothing/home/car, the OTHER neighbors’ kids, parties, lunches, casseroles, babies, botox, plastic surgery, hair styles, makeup, sunglasses, shoes, 
Any person of male descent who exhibits behaviors as described in above narrative will be considered a woman who is not working and subject to Articles I and II above.
Women who are not working and found guilty of violating Articles I and II above will be subject to suspension of all cell phone privileges public or private, required to perform 50 hours of community service defined as running errands for those who have been victimized by their rudity, and sentenced to the dreaded Hand Sanitizer Punishment.  And  yes, that is a word  . . .now.
Now that’s the kind of law that makes a President a hero!