Friday, November 9, 2007

Country Cooties

I have heard the American Harvester country song two days in a row. I don’t choose to listen to country music but happened to be in situations when it was on the radio. Country music writers must think outside the lyrics’ box because who else would write a song about an American Harvester and somehow manage to work in the FFA and 4-H.

I suppose this is encouraging to young song writers because few topics are off limits. There could be songs about dogs pooping in the neighbor’s yard, an alligator eating a poodle (hmmm, maybe better as a ‘gator chomping a mutt), cooties tasting yummy when the food runs out. For example:

Cookin' up some cooties,
Mama says they’re fine.
Better than empty stomachs,
Wash it down with wine.

Daddy’s gone a huntin’,

Hope he’s back real soon.
Cooties ain’t gonna hold me
‘Til lunch time next noon.

Crunchin’, munchin, hollerin’ to eat
Sister ain’t bathin so we always have cootie meat.

Open up a restaurant,
Servin’ cootie food.
Makin’ lots of money
Offa hungry city dudes.

Fry ‘em, boil ‘em, bake ‘em real brown
Heapin’ plates of cooties pass ‘em all around.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Vermont Country Store Catalog

The Vermont Country Store catalog arrived in my mailbox last week. I have never ordered from this catalog but may change that after my third browse through its delights. This catalog provides a trip through memory lane and reinforces my, um, maturity.

The candies were the first selections to catch my eye. It wasn’t exotic, expensive chocolates that gave me pause but the candies that were popular when I was a kid. We didn’t have Nerds or ring suckers or pop rocks. As the Vermont Country Store reminds me, we had Neccos, pastel colored mint wafers, Brach’s jelly nougats and Fizzies! Remember Fizzies? It was the candy version of Alka Seltzer. My parents did not purchase soda very often so Kool-Aid was the standard flavored drink. Fizzies were a fun alternative to Koolaide since my brothers and I could plop one tablet in the water, watch it fizz, and drink it down. I tried Fizzies as an adult and some things are best left to memories….Fizzies just aren’t that great, but my fond memory of them is intact. Another food item I had forgotten was Bosco. Bosco could be equated to Nestle’s chocolate syrup but Bosco had a cute bear as its advertising mascot; the name is more fun to say than Nestle!

A pink princess phone is available in the catalog. In the '60s here was no caller id, no touch tone dialing, no cordless wandering, but, oh, this style was revolutionary at the time. Black wall phones or black table phones were the standard plus phones were more utilitarian in purpose and appearance. Not only did the princess phone come in pretty colors and a new shape but it has a feminine name. I had a blue princess phone in my room and when I watch “The ‘70’s Show” I can see one used by the character Jackie.

Ah, my mind really began to trip down memory lane when I came to the perfume section. Smell is supposed to be a strong memory marker, and in this case just the name of the perfumes brought back the high school years. Ambush perfume was one of the two I used when in high school. It was my “second” favorite perfume with Heaven Scent being my favorite. (The most popular girl in school always wore Heaven Scent and that is one reason it was my favorite) Alas, Vermont Country Store does not carry Heaven Scent and if it did I would buy it – not to wear but just to have.
Ambush was a perfume I liked but Blue Waltz, Evening in Paris, and Tigress are also sold in this catalog and while I have memories of them, never wore them. Blue Waltz was the cheapest perfume one could buy from the Ben Franklin Dime Store and as teens we made much fun of it. Evening in Paris garnered the same disdain as Blue Waltz and several of us bought it once as a joke birthday gift for a friend. It is fun to see these in the catalog.

The last item that caused reflection wasn’t something that was actually for sale during “the day” but the theme was very famous. Vermont Country Store sells “Dick and Jane” flannel sheets. Anyone who learned to read during the 50’s and 60’s learned with the “Dick and Jane” primers. “See Jane!” “See, Dick!” “See Spot run!” I would bet it is baby boomers buying these sheets and sleeping on them!

If I were going to make one purchase from the Vermont Country catalog it would be the princess phone. While it has been updated (caller id, call waiting, touch tone dialing), it has the classic styling, original heavy weight, and would be great in a guest room. It also has no calories, won’t make me smell bad, and it is a great reminder of my youth.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Disney has portrayed some great villainesses on the screen. In some stories these women provide more interest than the femme fatale protagonist plus they have some great characteristics.

The evil queen in Snow White teaches the lesson that jealousy just isn’t a nice quality. But besides proving this, she shows us tenacity (doesn’t give up trying to find Snow White and getting rid of her), knows how to delegate authority (sends someone else to do her spiteful deeds), is willing to get her own hands dirty (takes it upon herself to kill Snow White), and knows how to work magic (changes into the old hag, creates a poison apple). Best of all she owned a magic mirror – how many of us would sell a relative for one of those?!

Maleficent is the witch who feels slighted at not being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s christening. When the king and queen whisk the princess to safety and anonymity after Maleficent places a curse upon the baby, the witch spends 18 years looking for the princess. This is persistence! She too uses magic to achieve her goals and is stubborn in her efforts to keep Prince Charming from finding his princess. She is willing to roll up her sleeves and fight the prince herself, taking risks herself instead of allowing others to do it for her. The best things about this villainess are her name and her outfit. Can we really fault her for being nasty when she has the name Maleficent? How sweet would Sleeping Beauty (aka Aurora or Rose) be if she had had been named, oh say, Malignantance?

Cruella de Vil has the name thing going against her and she seems particularly wicked because she wants to hurt puppies. Puppies just seem more sympathetic and sweet than beautiful princesses who are just waiting for the right man to come along. While she has no magic to aid her, she does have henchmen who helped her in her quest. Again, a woman in charge who knows how to delegate. Even while Cruella is a really nasty villainess she did have a great car and cool wardrobe. Even though she was evil she had great fashion sense.

Ursula has it in for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” Now, she is not the worst of these villainesses. For some reason she really doesn’t strike fear in my heart as the others did. Yes, she is a meany – she makes an almost winless deal with Ariel because she hates her father. But this witch is a hard worker – she keeps on top of the project to make sure Ariel loses the bet. I have a bit of a soft spot for Ursula. First of all she is overweight and she was rejected by the king. The king has a beautiful thin spoiled daughter who is a princess and Ursula is just a lonely, chubby octopus witch. Wanting revenge isn’t a nice quality but Ursula sure has a lot going against her which probably made her turn into a revengeful villainess.

Lady Tremaine is Cinderella’s evil stepmother and she does give stepmothers a bad name. While she certainly knows how to delegate responsibility, (she doesn’t distribute the responsibilities equally between her two daughters and Cinderella because poor Cindy and has to do all the work) but she doesn’t have any magical powers. Lady Tremaine is just plain jealous of Cinderella and wishes her own daughters were as pretty and nice as her stepdaughter. Maybe she is nasty because she just wanted to get married to a man who would take care of her and her daughters and then realizes she is stuck with his kid after he goes off and disappears. That same thing happens today although social services would not be happy with her treatment of Cinderella. Lady Tremaine doesn’t meet the awful fate of the other villainesses’ but watches her built in maid go live in the great big castle with the good looking prince.

Let’s face it, these villainess’s are underrated. They are the characters that make the story. Without them some spoiled rich girls (okay, the Dalmatian puppies could still be an okay story without a woman who wants to use them for clothing) would just meet her man and live happily ever after without overcoming any challenges. Would Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Ariel appreciate their princes if they had just been handed over to them or did the challenges bring the couples closer together? I say those women owe a thank you to the villainesses. As for the rest of us, come on….how many of us haven’t wished for a magic wand or powers in which we could make someone’s life a bit miserable or to allow us to get our way?

Monday, November 5, 2007

No Passions

Dan told me he has not missed seeing a Packer game in 10 years. He is able to attend some home games but otherwise he watches them on TV. I was astonished. I don't believe I have ever had an interest or hobby that compelled me to always watch it, participate in it, and/or make time for it for 10 years. I am jealous.

A few years ago, Lisa, the law office receptionist, won tickets to a Packer game. She had never been to a Packer game and loves the team. She was so excited she had tears in her eyes. Joan and I discussed what it would take for us to be that excited -- we came up with winning the lottery.

It is just a coincidence that both these examples revolve around the Packers. The point is that these people have a passionate interest in something. The last interest that consumed me was the high school referendum (some might say it was an obsession). Why don't I have passions? Why am I not avidly interested in one thing? Do I insulate my feelings so I don't get disappointed in caring about something?