Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Taking Down the Tree Sucks

It's always a bummer of a day when you take down the Christmas tree. I never get sick of looking at my tree (Oooooh, sparkly. Ooohhh, pretty lights.), and I hate when that inevitable time comes when I have to put it back in its box and carry it back into the garage until next year. So very un-festive.

Generally, I wait until after Epiphany to take it down, but this year, my parents and brother Troy are coming for New Year's weekend, and I'm having the carpets shampooed in their honor. So, as I'd rather have the spot where the tree was standing cleaned and free of milk splatters and ground-in cheese than leave my tree up for a few more days, down it came.

Taking down the tree is more of a bummer for me than for most people. Yes, it sounds like an exaggeration, but there it is. Here's why:

Ten years ago, Jose and I bought a very nice fake Christmas tree for two reasons: 1) we misguidedly thought fake trees were better for the environment; and 2) we have allergies and thought a metal tree might go easier on our sinuses. I have since discovered that real trees are better for the environment, because Christmas trees tend to grow on rough terrain on which other crops can't/won't. So instead of having just a stretch of rock-strewn sand or mushy swamp, you actually have a bunch of carbon-eating trees that are continuously replenished. The jury's still out on the whole sinus thing.

So anyway, we have this fake tree. When we first bought it, Simba our Skulking Cat LOVED to climb into the uppermost branches and shake all the ornaments off. So Jose bought an all-natural animal repellent spray called "Get Off!" that was supposed to deter kitty from shredding the tree, breaking all the ornaments, and ruining Christmas.

Unfortunately, Get Off! did not deter our persistent cat, so Jose went out and bought an even stronger all-natural herbal pet deterrent. It turned out to be the most noxious substance I've encountered this side of the smelly cheese factory in Random Lake (whose cheese is most excellent, though the process required to make it is often most odiferous). We don't remember what it's called, as we immediately started not-so-affectionately referring to it as "Get the Hell Off!"

It made our eyes water, caused sneezing fits, and often had me reaching for my asthma inhaler whenever I came within a few feet of the tree. We surrendered immediately and informed Simba that if he could stand the smell, the tree was his, as we figured spraying more Get the Hell Off! inside the house might cause one of us to grow an extra hand out of our forehead. (Needless to say, after one treatment, we weren't buying the whole all-natural thing anymore.)

Simba tried a couple more times to lurk in the tree, but eventually, the persistent nature of Get the Hell Off! wore him down, and he found other, less-oxygen-sucking things to climb and shred.

To our shock, the following year when we pulled the tree out, it STILL smelled like Get the Hell Off! And the year after it did. And the year after that. And the year after that.

Apparently, Get the Hell Off! has the half-life of DDT, because ten years later, I can STILL smell and taste that stuff in a big, bad way whenever I put up or take down the tree. And since I just took it down mere moments ago, I feel like I've spent the whole day licking George Costanza's postage stamps and bathing in the eau de skunk. Plus, the tree itself likes to attack me while I'm trying to shove it back in its box ("Nooo! I want to stay out here with yoooouuuu!"), so I also have itchy little scratches up and down my arms.

And this, dear readers, is why taking down our tree really sucks. The end.

Interestingly enough, not knowing what I was writing about, Jose just walked in and said, "My throat is killing me, and I keep sneezing. It's that Get the Hell Off!, isn't it? I think my head's going to explode."

"All-natural" my big boo-tay....

Monday, December 25, 2006


Merry Christmas! We had a relaxing holiday, thanks to the Navy putting Jose on duty this week--which means we had to stay within 30 minutes of the base and couldn't visit anyone. But of course, it was still nice.

Jose couldn't contain himself and wanted Santa to bring the girls their presents on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day. He grew quite persistent about it, so to calm him down, I spent much of the afternoon yesterday figuring out the logistics of giving Maggie and Marin their presents without exposing the whole Santa ruse before Maggie even turns three and therefore depriving her of a key childhood experience. (Marin, at one, is happily oblivious--all she knew was that some new toys and a lot of shiny, edible paper suddenly showed up under the tree.)

As luck would have it, Maggie decided to take a rare nap, during which we sneaked all the presents under the tree. When she woke up, we told her Santa had come, to which she replied, "I missed the reindeer?"

She's not quite three, so I'm still amazed at all the stuff she "gets," including this whole Santa deal. (The true meaning of Christmas is still a bit beyond her, though she did wave hello and/or yell "happy birthday" to the baby Jesus every time we passed a Nativity scene in the car.)

Fortunately, she was still young enough not to make the connection between the wrapping paper that had sat on the dining room table for the last week and the presents under the tree, wrapped in the same type of paper.

Anyway, the tragedy of missing the reindeer's visit was swiftly forgotten when she saw all the presents waiting for her, and she opened her own and Marin's, too. They got a bunch of books, including That's Not My Monster and Your Personal Penguin, a Cariboo game, a baby Ariel/Little Mermaid doll, a Disney princess tea set, some wooden vegetables with a chef hat, a mini dragon kite, some frilly princess nightgowns, and a Fisher-Price indestructible MP3 player from Santa. The grandparents and uncles got them, among other things, a TMX Elmo, a matching game, some American Girl ornaments, a Harajuku Lovers shirt and Gwen Stefani CD (because despite her mother holding the opposite view, Maggie is a HUGE Gwen fan), and some snowmen nesting dolls. Oh, and this penguin-snowman-tree montage that sings "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" when you press a button.

Jose got me a really soft bathrobe--or, rather, a picture of said robe, as it didn't arrive in time for Christmas. He also got me some perfectly hideous Hello Kitty pajamas, because a) I love pajamas, and b) he thought Maggie would get a kick out of them. I adore them and am currently sitting here happily wallowing in their hideousness. And he rounded that out with some workout gear and a protective cover for the iPod video he got me for my birthday (because, I suspect, he wanted my old iPod for his very own--it keeps suspiciously disappearing, along with the iRide thing that allows me to play it through the car radio).

He is notoriously hard to buy for, and if he can't eat it or wear it, he's always compelled to return it, because he can't stand the thought of someone actually spending money on him. But I did all right--I got him some clothes, an electronic photo frame that will store and display 10,000 photos, the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 video, and a few other small things that I think he'll keep this year.

I made a terrible turkey dinner, and since it was raining out, we watched Miracle on 34th St. and, after playing some games, Spiderman 2 today in between eating. Oh, my brother also got me some Serendipity frozen hot chocolate mix, which I've always wanted to try, so we made frozen hot chocolate. I highly recommend it--it's so choice.

We were going to go out and either look at Christmas lights or hit the drive-in, but we all have a cold, so we decided to be lazy. And with all these toys, who needs to go anywhere?

Anyway, it appears I've been invited to tea, so off I go. Ta-ta.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Stuff I've Done" Meme

I found this somewhere on the web. I can't remember where, so my apologies to whomever I stole it from!

Stuff I've done is in bold.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins -- Come on! How about sea turtles? Sharks? Baby octopi? Barracuda? Sea cucumbers? I've swam with lots of marine life, but no dolphins yet. Lots and lots of parrot fish, though.
03. Climbed a mountain -- Does a stumpy little mountain in the Cascades that you don't need equipment to climb count?
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid --No, but I SO want to do this!
06. Held a tarantula -- Honestly, I would rather chew on an electrical cord.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone -- GAH! Too personal! Leaving that one alone!
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
-- In Minnesota, and they were So! Cool!
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight

28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run -- Right. A room of monkeys have a better chance of typing out "Macbeth" than I do of hitting a home run. I think I got one in kickball once in elementary school, though.
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
--And I just want to take this moment to apologize to anyone I annoyed.
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states -- I'm missing Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Utah, Wyoming, and Alaska.

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales

45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love --And I just want to go back in time and smack some sense into myself for that one.
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero

58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight up to 12
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror --Sort of. I got pulled out of the audience to be the Rocky Horror virgin. It was very weird.
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication -- That would be the day job.
106. Lost over 100 pounds -- I've probably lost the same ten pounds over and over again. Does that count?
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse and fell off once
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours I was sick
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents -- Still have Antarctica and Africa left.
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach -- I didn't just touch it, I smashed it with an ottoman. Nasty things.
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating -- A fish! It was just a fish!
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream -- In that lovely time between book contract and actually working on the book.
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life -- Sort of. I did a rescue in a pool when I was a lifeguard in college.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I am terrified of this doll.

My mother hates, and I mean HATES the Bratz dolls. Pretty much nothing in this world can inspire a bilingual harangue from Mom like the sight of one of those pillow-lipped, wall-eyed, overly mascara-ed answers to the Barbie doll, i.e. ":::Spanish muttering::: I HATE Bratz dolls! Those dolls look like HOOKERS! How could any parent BUY their child those trashy things? :::more Spanish muttering:::"

Apparently, hooker dolls sell well, though. Not to be outdone, Mattel has modified Barbie into a truly horrific Bratz-like incarnation called My Scene Barbie. And new for the holiday season, they've now come out with the Fab Faces My Scene Barbie, featuring: "innovative, one-of-a-kind movable face feature that allows girls to create five different expressions on the dolls' faces!" As well as "a super glam, ultra stylish lace and glitter dress!" And "accessories no diva can live without--a furry boa, a sparkling tiara, and glittering jewelry!"

FYI, the exclamation point overload is courtesy of Mattel. For real.

Anyway, I saw one of the Fab Face My Scene Horror Shows on a store shelf the other day, and so I did the only thing a God-fearing mom could do. I shrieked and then started muttering under my breath about how the doll looked like a hooker and how could anyone buy their daughter such a thing. It would have been bilingual had my Spanish been better.

Basically, the thing is a poseable ad for body dysmorphic disorder.

The My Scene Fab Face Barbie is quite possibly the most horrifying piece of plastic I've ever seen in my life, other than the purple, orange, and yellow glasses I sported in the third grade. Because while the original Barbie was hardly realistically proportioned (legend has it that if you gave a human Barbie's relative measurements, her waist would be too thin to support her torso, and she'd be forced to crawl on all fours), at least her face was somewhere in the realm of normal. Is it possible for a doll to have Botox AND lip collagen? Because this face isn't possible without either. Along with a nice cat-eyed, Jocelyn Wildenstein-esque face lift.

According to the marketing materials, Fab Face My Scene Barbie makes five different expressions. I have taken the liberty of naming them:

1) Ow, I think I burst my stitches.
2) Help. Too. Much. Botox.
3) I am SO 29!
4) But I am smiling!
5) Puh-leeeeeeease will you make me look like Angelina Jolie?

I think I'm going to email the people at and tell them to put this damn doll on their site. Because every website needs a mascot.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Brother, the Direction Savant

When my brother Tom was ranting about bad Christmas carols the other day, you may have noticed in his Shakespearean apologia to readers that he mentioned having a "savant-like sense of direction." Now that he's outed himself in a public venue, I figure I can exploit that topic for today's blog.

To put it simply, Tommy is like Rain Man when it comes to directions. As long as he's been to a place once in his life past the age of, perhaps, six (We haven't tested earlier), he never, and I mean NEVER, forgets how to get around. And it's way freaky.

Case in point: Before Troy was born, our parents took Tommy and I on a road trip to Washington, DC, when I was 14 and he was 10. We saw all the usual stuff--the monuments, the Smithsonian museums, the White House exterior, making our base camp at a small hotel near Arlington Cemetery. Flash forward 15 years later, when Jose and I had recently moved to a DC suburb and Tommy had to fly into National Airport for a business trip. I picked him up in the evening, and as he looked around, he said something about how it would be nice to see the monuments at night.

Now I have a fairly decent sense of direction, though I'm never sure of myself. I just get vague hunches and pretty much use The Force until I find my way. I hadn't been in DC for that long, and like Tommy, I hadn't seen the monuments at night yet. So I said sure, let's go see them, but don't hate me if I get lost.

Tommy's response? "Take the next exit."

I must've looked at him oddly, because then he said, "Seriously, take the next exit. I remember this."

To which I shrieked, "YOU WERE TEN!"

But, since I hadn't a clue where we were going, I took the next exit. He then proceeded to lead me around a rotary, through the snarl of criss-crossing streets and highways that stand between National Airport and the center of the city, and down a few of the numbered and lettered streets until we hit Constitution, which, he proclaimed, would take us to the Mall. And so it did.

Just yesterday, I discovered that the large, gray building being constructed by developers across from my neighborhood grocery store is going to be a SuperTarget. Tommy happens to work for Target's corporate office, so I asked him when the Target on XXX Drive was slated to open. I forgot to mention that our community is so new, it's not even remotely on Mapquest. I also forgot to mention that said SuperTarget, though only a mile or so from my house, is across a county line, so while my house is in one city, it's in another. So, poor Tommy was pretty much doomed when he tried to find it using the street I gave him.

However, a few minutes later, he gave me the proper address, the SuperTarget's opening date, and a complaint over my neighborhood not being in Mapquest and my getting the city wrong. I asked him how he managed to find the address despite the obstacles I'd thrown at him. Keep in mind that's he's only been to visit us here once, about a year ago.

And he said: "I switched the map to satellite view, found the grocery store near your house, and figured it out from there."

I pointed out that the satellite map view has no street names.

"Don't hate me."

See! Weird, isn't it?

This uncanny ability doesn't seem to have bled into other areas of his psyche. We've tried spilling boxes of toothpicks in front of him, and not only does he fail to count them all in a micro-second, he usually starts making fun of us for being clumsy. We've taken him gambling, and he has not brought home the big bucks playing blackjack. And while his math skills are pretty good, he claims that if we try sending him to NASA anytime soon to calculate Shuttle trajectories without the proper schooling, he would probably crash it. And I'm sure my sister-in-law wouldn't appreciate his joining the CIA to disappear for days on end when they call him to read intelligence maps, so that's out, too.

If one is going to have a savant-like ability, it would be nice if said ability brought one either fame or fortune. Sadly, Tommy's may not bring him either--unless we can talk him into going on the Amazing Race--but it is rather fascinating. I think he should have his own Discovery Channel special.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Egypt-Egypt Mystery Solved! YES!

No one probably remembers this, but back in April, I wrote a post about our trip to Ft. Lauderdale to see the King Tut exhibit, entitled "Pyramids Are Oh, So Fine. Egypt. Egypt."

That title came from the line to a song that Jose sang over and over and OVER again all the way down to the southern tip of Florida. All. Six. Hours. Occasionally, he'd spice things up by adding a random, "Break it up, break it up. Get down, get down. Burn it up, burn it up." And then he'd go back to the original line.

We had surmised that it was a shred of Steve Martin's "King Tut" that had been embedded in his brain, but The Queen-a Athena blasted that theory by reproducing the lyrics to "King Tut" in their entirety in that post's comment section.

A Google search proved fruitless, so we figured the song fragment would remain one of life's great mysteries, along with who made the Easter Island statues and what happened to Atlantis.

But on this auspicious day, Jose returned from work once again singing, "Pyramids are Oh, So Fine. Egypt. Egypt." I promptly sent him to the computer and told him to find it once and for all. He started blasting awful 1980s dance music (i.e. NOT New Wave) from the loft computer, and then, wanting to put an end to that insanity right away, I launched my own search.

And then, a Festivus miracle happened. Google turned up the MySpace page of one circa 1983 musician by the name of Egyptian Lover who had a song called "Egypt, Egypt." I clicked on it, and it turned out to be the source of that interminable lyric. And, it's actually quite the fun song. Maggie and I threw our hands in the air and started doing the Cameron Diaz Butt Dance, until Jose spoiled our fun because Dr. Who was on.

If you, too, want to enjoy this butt-danceable masterpiece, click here for the MySpace link. If I can find it for download, it's so going on the gym playlist on my iPod.

Pyramids are Oh, So Fine. Egypt. Egypt.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Worst. Christmas. Songs. Ever.

So I was driving Maggie around our fair city last night, as driving calms her down and she was exposed to cool air that soothed her throat--both great things for a croupy child who is coughing so hard, she's making herself throw up. The drive did the trick, and while Maggie and I were zipping around the neighborhood checking out Christmas light displays, my brother Tom called. Turns out he was driving as well, and I happened to mention something I was listening to on the holiday channel on Sirius ... which set him off in a way I haven't witnessed since he walked out of Star Wars, Episode 1 and someone said the name "Jar-Jar."

It was ugly. F-bombs flying everywhere.

Apparently, it took a few really horrible holiday songs to turn my brother into an activist. Last night, I learned that every year, Tom writes the good people at Sirius a letter, decryng their poor taste in holiday music and lamenting that several of his favorites have been sadly underplayed on Channel 2's December rotation. I'm guessing that it's something the Sirius people look forward to every year.

So, to give Tom another outlet to express his rage, today's blog is dedicated to both reproducing this year's letter and listing the Worst Christmas Songs Ever in the History of Ever. Take it away, Tom! (I'll interject here and there, because while they don't inspire the forehead-bulging rage that the Vince Vance group does for you, I do have my own list.)

To the Good People of Sirius:

I have been a Sirius subscriber for 2+ years and want to thank you for providing me an outlet away from terrestrial radio. I appreciate the lack of commercials on the music channels as well as the lack of idiot DJs, so thank you. However, I have 1 issue. Every year I look forward to the holiday season and the carols of Christmas that accompany it. I am happy that you have dedicated a couple of channels to playing only holiday music. What I am not happy with is the lack of creativity and selection of the songs played.


1.) "The Christmas Song" should never be played by anyone EXCEPT the late, great Nat "King" Cole.
2.) "White Christmas" should never be played by anyone EXCEPT the late, great Bing Crosby.
3.) Other standards are a necessity, but should not be played more than 5 times an hour!
4.) The variety of artists is good, BUT I am sure that each of them recorded more than 1 Christmas song! I can only take so much of Dean Martin singing "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." How about "Baby It's Cold Outside?" Or when he does a classic like "Joy to the World," but puts that great Dean-o half drunk, leering attitude behind it?
5.) What the f@ck do you play Vince Vance and the Valiants' "All I want for Christmas is You?" Who the f@ck are they?! The song sounds like karaoke that I can go to my local bar and hear.
6.) Why must you insist on playing only the new version of "Do They Know Its Christmas?" The classic Band-Aid should have never suffered the indignity of being remade. Especially with that stupid rap in the middle of the new one.

If you could please just add more variety, it would be very much appreciated. I remain yours, a loyal subscriber,

Tom R.

I first want to apologize to Tracy's readers - she and Troy got the writing skills, I just got the math skills and a savant like sense of direction. Here is my list of songs that need to go!:

All I want for Christmas is You - Vince Vance and the Valiants - What a train wreck. This one gets me worked up the minute I see the name flash on my Sirius screen. First of all, who are these idiots? I actually looked them up on Wikipedia and found out that they are a "party band." If you ask me, they are a bunch of "no talent ass-clowns." (thanks Office Space!) Plus, that name is so lame. And, their 2 other "hits" according to Wikipedia were "Bomb Iran" and "Bomb Iraq." To me this is THE number one most annoying song played at Christmas.

Christmas Shoes - New Song - What a piece of crap this song is. It is one of those songs where the person writing it is just trying to gain attention as the "Aw, isn't that sweet" song. Well, it isn't. It is a manufactured, try-too-hard holiday song. Big ups to the Lean Left blog, which said:

"If you haven’t heard it, it’s a song about a boy who’s scraping together money to buy a pretty pair of shoes for his mom, who’s dying. He wants to buy them because 'I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight.' Oy. The only way to make the song even remotely tolerable is to do something Kevin found Googling up the song: Imagine the kid is a grifter, his mom is waiting in the car, and they’ve been pulling this scam at every store in town, with plans to return the shoes for cash two days after Christmas."

Wonderful Christmas Time - Paul McCartney -
Anything from the Wings-era Sir Paul should be forgotten. He should have written this for Boxing Day instead. This is the Jar Jar Binks of Sir Paul's music career.

Anything by the Trans-Siberia Orchestra - Sorry fellas, but you could not carry the Manheim Steamrollers jock. Who came up with this? "Yeah, let's do some music like Manheim Steamroller, but then get really loud and annoying!" Well, you succeeded!

Any holiday song by the Eurythmics - I like their pop stuff, but the holiday stuff has to go.

Tracy jumps in to add:

Jingle Bells, by the Jingle Dogs

What kind of tin-eared freak thought it would be a good idea to have DOGS barking once-beloved Christmas carols in their entirety? I want to tie him up and make him listen to dogs barking every Clay Aiken song in existence. Accompanied by Kenny G.

Santa Baby, any version, but especially Madonna's
This song creeps me the hell out. I don't care if it's a song about a woman in love with her significant other, who happens to be dressed in a Santa suit at the moment. You simply Do. Not. Sexualize. Santa. It's wrong. So very, very wrong.

Any KidzBop carol
Note to the creator--just because you spell "kids" with a Z does not make you cool. Kidzbop--a Disney franchise where they take perfectly good songs and have a "choir" (and I use that term loosely) of loud, shrieking children (aka "kidz") belt them out at full voice while trying some ridiculously age-inappropriate runs and swoops and other vocal atrocities--is simply an abomination. To turn said children on holiday carols crosses a line that never, never should have been crossed.

I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas, by anyone
The word is nothing. NOTHING! NOTHING, damn you!

TOM SAYS: I know that a lot of you are thinking, "Hey! Lighten up! Its Christmas!" Well, I will by giving you some of my favorite songs.

Christmastime is Here and Hark the Herald Angels Sing - A Charlie Brown Christmas - Classic. I love the Peanuts gang and these songs are sincere. Plus, almost everyone will feel nostalgic hearing these 2. (Tracy says: What's up with replacing words with numbers? R U2 cool 4 this blog? I bet K-Fed does that.)

Anything on the Barenaked Ladies Holiday Album - If you want fun, good Christmas (and Hanukkah!) songs, pick up this album. BNL put a fun spin on Holiday songs. Plus, they have great Guests like Sarah Mclachlan and Michael Buble. I recommend "Elf's Lament," "Green Christmas," and "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah."

This Christmas - Jeffrey Osborne - I love the funk in this song. As a lifelong LA Lakers fan, I am partial to the man who sung many national Anthems before the start of their games. Plus, the man sang on "We Are the World" AND dueted with Alfonso Ribeiro on Celebrity Duets! (Tracy says: And he also sang something called "The Woo Woo Song." Which just has to be cool.)

Anything with Bing Crosby and the Andrews sisters. Just great harmonies and again, that nostalgic feeling. "Mele Kalikimaka" is one of my favorites!

Oi to the World - No Doubt - I am a big No Doubt fan and they did Christmas right with this one. It is true to their sound and background and has a Christmas theme - punk style. (Tracy says: I just hope it's better than what Gwen did to "It's the End of the World as We Know It" on New Year's. :::shudder:::)

Let Me Sleep - Pearl Jam - The greatest band to have ever lived. Another song true to the band. Eddie simply asks, "Please let me sleep, its Christmastime." (Tracy says: Eddie must have two croupy kids with eye goo. Rock on, Eddie! I feel your pain!)

My Favorite Things - Tony Bennett - I know, this was in Sound of Music, but this has become a holiday staple. TB's version is the best out there.

Tracy says: Thanks, Tom! No one does a cranky old man at 30 better than you, especially at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The First Annual Academy Awards That Need to Be Revoked List

A plague has visited the house of Fernandez (real name alert!) this week, and it's so not pretty. I hauled Maggie to the ER last night at 2 am-ish due to severe coughing/vomiting, and the poor thing was diagnosed with croup and pink eye in both eyes. Marin, the original pink-eyed lady, has been sick since the Monday before Thanksgiving, and two nights ago woke up with her entire face crusted over like something from the X-Files. We're off to our third visit to the doctor this morning.

Of course, I'm glad things aren't worse, but it's still heartbreaking to see them both feeling so awful. Curse you, cold and flu and crusty face season!

Anyway, in a random and completely unrelated subject change, my youngest brother Troy and I had a hilarious discussion a few weeks ago about people whose Academy Awards should be revoked. We have tried to recapture the hilarity of the original below. Enjoy!

TRACY: It's Oscar season, and the craptacular end-of-summer film blahs give way to more cerebral and effects-laden fare, as movie producers start courting the Hollywood Academy for award nominations.

However, it is the opinion of myself and my brother and pop culture freak Troy that certain individuals have been smiled upon by the Academy when they ought to have been spit upon, chewed up into little pieces, and drop-kicked right over to the Razzies. So, in an effort to right past wrongs, we hereby publish our esteemed list of Academy Awards that Need to be Revoked.

The Best Actor field isn't filled with easy targets like, say, Best Supporting Actress (see below), but the Academy's streak of excellent judgment (Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, anyone?) ended in 1978, when Richard Dreyfus won for The Goodbye Girl.

No, I've never seen the film (though I've seen too many others, including that sugar-shock fest, Mr. Holland's Opus), and no, I don't care if anyone thinks he is a good actor. It is my expert opinion that he is annoying and has a cheesy mustache.

After '78, Oscar gets back on track with a list of considerable talent earning the Best Actor nod, from Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino to Dustin Hoffman and Ben Kingsley. And then it all just goes to hell when Nicholas Cage, that nasal, overacting hack, snagged the award for Leaving Las Vegas. If I see that man clench his fist and inhale through his teeth one more time in a movie, I think my head will explode. Ugh.

TROY: I agree with pretty much everything here. I think Nicholas Cage's award has to be taken away from him twice and then used to bash him over the head for the monstrousity known as Ghost Rider that is being released in 2007.

TRACY: I would have noted that it's a little premature to be hating on Ghost Rider, but seeing as Nicholas Cage hasn't surprised anyone with a performance in years :::clench fist, inhale through teeth, bug out eyes::::, I'd have to agree.

TROY: I HATE that Jamie Foxx was so good in Ray. His ego (and Kanye West's for that matter) needs to be deflated faster than you can say "Booty Call."

TRACY: I loved him in Ray. You're right about the ego, though. HUGE!

TROY: Additionally, I AM swiping away Roberto Benigni's Oscar for being a one hit wonder and super creepy.

TRACY: Boo! He made me laugh with all of his chair jumping and wanting to make love to the entire Oscar audience. Sure, I wouldn't want to sit next to him on an airplane, but from a couple thousand miles away through my TV screen, he's entertaining!

IMHO, everyone else in this category pretty much deserved their award, though it's a shame we had to wait until 2001 for Denzel to join Sidney Poitier as an African-American winner. And where are the Latinos? Surely someone, somewhere, gave a moving performance as a janitor, gangbanger, or pool boy? Edward James Olmos, you've been robbed!

Here, again, the Academy did pretty well, until the streak comes to a grinding halt with Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets.

TROY: SWIPE to Helen Hunt because she looks so much like Leelee Sobieski. Giving her an award is like giving it to geek girl (most annoying actress EVAH!) And does Helen Hunt have lips?

TRACY: Agreed. Leelee Sobieski is the human equivalent of tinnitus, so we'd have to swipe it just on those grounds. But Helen Hunt's overacting whenever she has some sort of romantic soliloquy (i.e. end of Castaway and What Women Want) makes me want to swipe her Oscar AND give it collectively to the actors in a purposely over-the-top Mexican soap opera, like La Madrastra.

The Helen Hunt debacle was followed the next year by Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Now, she may have been misquoted in saying that the UK is more civilized than the US, but all signs point to Ms. Fish Stick as being someone who sucks the fun out of, oh, everything. Funsucker!

TROY: SWIPE to Julia Roberts for never being able to close her mouth.

TRACY: I'd revoke Julia Roberts' Oscar, too, just because she stole that poor woman's husband and then started calling herself Mrs. Danny Moder. What's that? Do I hear 1957 calling to get it's method of address back?

And then there's the sensitive question of what to do about Halle Berry? I loved her performance in Monster's Ball, and I was a big sobbing mess during her Oscar speech, (shameful that it took that many years for THAT door to be opened, to paraphrase). But she must never, ever, EVER star in another superhero movie again. The Incredible Disappearing Accent in the X-Men films made my head hurt.

TROY: Halle Berry blows. She made Catwoman and stunk up the X-Men franchise, annihilating two beloved comic book characters. Plus, to coin from you, Lamest. Bond. Girl. EVAH! And she has a Razzie. Kiss Oscar goodbye!

TRACY: Whoa. Troy's getting nasty, y'all. OK, let's swipe her Oscar and give it to Angela Bassett, who both rocks (AMAZING in everything she's in, esp. What's Love Got to Do With It) and has not butchered a comic book character. That way, the door can stay open, and I can pretend that Angela gave the moving Oscar speech.

TROY: I also was thinking about giving props to Angela Bassett, so you read my mind!

I revoke Joe Pesci's Oscar on the basis that anyone who talks through his nose should not be recognized for speaking/acting ability. Ever.

TROY: I also swipe Martin Landau's for being a crabby old man.

TRACY: Hey, I like his crabby old man schtick! But OK.

Here's a painful one: As much as I ADORED his performance as Rod Tidwell in Jerry Macguire, I think we have to revoke Cuba Gooding Jr's Oscar due to the gross amount of sheer crap he's inflicted on us since. Cuba, all it takes is one more excellent performance in a decent, well-written film, and you can have your little gold statue back!

TROY: Cuba sealed his fate when he made Boat Trip. It was a great moment when he accepted his Oscar, but he couldn't back up the promise of his talent. Now he's the king of Direct-to-DVD films. Call up Quentin Tarantino and make a comeback!

TRACY: Totally. We're pulling for you, Cuba!


TRACY: I just have to say that I always find it a little disturbing whenever you decide to channel Tyra Banks, but that was wholly appropriate.

Also, I'd give George Clooney another Oscar for being hot AND having a conscience without having to be brainwashed by Angelina Jolie.

TROY: Double awards to Michael Caine for being so awesome.

TRACY: Word.

Here's where the Oscars are ripe for the taking.

First order of business, I'll give Helen Hunt's Oscar to Rita Moreno for being one of the lone Latinos on the Oscar acting list and NOT playing a gangbanger, maid, pool girl, or ho. Stupid Academy. Stupid casting directors.

TROY: Until, J.LO wins an Oscar one of these days !

TRACY: It could happen! J.Lo, despite rumors of diva behavior and morphing based on whichever dude she's married to at the moment, is a good actress.

Oh, I just realized. My girl Rita Moreno was a gangbanger's girlfriend in West Side Story. Whatever, it was a cool part, and she was badass. "A boy like thaaaaaaat, who killed your brother!"

TROY: Moving on....

TRACY: "Forget that boy, and FIND ANOTHER!"

TROY: Still moving on....

TRACY: Funsucker.

We need to also take away Mary Steenburgen's 1980 Oscar for Melvin and Howard (what?) away based on the Pesci-Cage talking-through-your-nose rule. ("A boy who killlllllllsssss, cannot LOVE!")

TROY: (Stop it.) In addition to her vacant stare, she's super boring! Talking about her, puts me t...ZZZzzzZZZzZZZZZZzzzZZZ...I mean, SWIPE!

TRACY: And then there's Geena Davis, who needs her Accidental Tourist award swiped both for the film being bad, for talking like a space cadet, and for being the same googly-eyed weirdo in every film she's in. You can't get an award for being the same person in every film you're in! That's not right!

TROY: SWIPE! You can't forget that monotonous man voice, slouchy posture, and bad choices in film (Cutthroat Island?) AND television (I really do NOT want to see her as the president, thank you). Someone needs to be banished from Hollywood!

TRACY: I swipe Anna Paquin's award for The Piano because she was annoying in the film and continues to annoy as an adult.

TROY: And she ruined Rogue. And she has a stupid mousey voice. And bad teeth. Bleh. SWIPE!

TRACY: Totally giving that one to Dakota Fanning, who is not annoying and knows how to dress like the precocious and delightful little girl she is. (However, if you ho it up when you hit Lindsay Lohan-age, Dakota, I'm coming for you!)

I also swipe Dianne Wiest's award for Bullets Over Broadway, again invoking the Pesci-Cade nose-talking rule.

TROY: Awww, I don't mind Dianne Wiest. She seems like a nice lady. I'm indifferent.

TRACY: OK, she's my Martin Landau. SWIPE!

And I swipe Mira Sorvino's award, invoking the Cuba Gooding Jr. everything-you've-made-since-is-dreck rule.

TROY: But, she was in Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion! Eh...I guess that's it though.

TRACY: I fail to see how that exempts her from the rule stated above.

TROY: Poor Mira Sorvino. Swipe!

You can't forget Dame Judi Dench's award, because EIGHT MINUTES? That's a slap in the face to the other nominees!

TRACY: Yes, but she's divine. Oh, OK. Let's give that one to Helen Mirren, another actress from across the water who is fabulous.

And now, I swipe Kim Basinger's for being a ho in most films she's in.

TROY: What about that empowering role in 8 Mile? SWIPE!

TRACY: I swipe Angelina Jolie's because she has to get naked in every film she's in, regardless of whether it's relevant to the plot or not. No one needs to see all that all the time, Jolie, no matter how perfect it is.

TROY: I'll let you swipe Sexy Jolie's, only because I hope that one day her and Jennifer Aniston are both nominated at the same time, ending with Jolie winning her second Oscar. It would be glorious!

TRACY: So mean!

TROY: I would also like to swipe Rachel Weisz's award, not because she was bad or anything, but because Michelle Williams and Amy Adams were amazing.

TRACY: Poor Rachel. I swipe Marcia Gay Harden's because she's obnoxious and has a prissy little smile. You can explain why--take it away, Troy!

TROY: Give Marcia Gay Harden's award back to Kate Hudson, who everyone expected to win that year for Almost Famous. Hudson probably had her acceptance speech all set, only to be usurped by Marcia Prissy Pants who, with her smug face, proclaimed, "Despite what everyone said, I KNEW I would win!" Ick. I think that losing an almost guaranteed award drove Kate Hudson to insanity, resulting in her horrible choice in movies as of late.

TRACY: And finally, I swipe Renee Zellweger's because she's bat-crap crazy.

TROY: But a good actress! And if she keeps getting praise, she'll stick around in Hollywood and we can laugh at her!

TRACY: Batcrapcrazy.

TROY: Any of these actresses need to give their award to Julianne Moore. Four nominations and no award? Snap!

TRACY: Agreed! Love her!

TROY: And I just have to end with a link to this video, which is all kinds of awesome.

TRACY: (That would be "George Lucas Does Singing in the Rain.") I see the family penchant for non-sequiturs is still intact. EGG-cellent.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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