Wednesday, November 29, 2006


We made it through my mother's Thanksgiving dinner (turkey cooked by Winn-Dixie). She added all of the "trimmings": StoveTop stuffing, canned cranberries, gravy from a jar. Where I drew the line, however, was when she showed me the instant potatoes and canned yams she intended to serve. Instead, I made mashed white and sweet potatoes, skin on, with roasted garlic. Yum.

Have other kooky stories from our visit, but no time to write them today. Instead, I'll rerun an old favorite about my mother and her culinary talents:

She was probably a little nuts even here, circa 1942, but I think my mother really went off the deep end after she had babies. You'd think she would have stopped after the first one, when she realized how much she didn't like motherhood, but she proceeded to squirt out two more daughters. She pretty much hated all three of us to different degrees and for different reasons but primarily for being young women that my father might be inclined to love. In her mind, there was only room for ONE attractive woman in my dad's life. She never stopped to think about how ugly that made her.

Stories about my mother have the potential to be really sad and horrifying, but she is so warped that one can't help but find humor in them. Think of her as a cross between Edith Bunker and Joan Crawford. She sounds like Edith, but she'd strangle you with a wire hanger in a heartbeat.

She is allegedly not a stupid person. According to her, she was so brilliant as a kid that she skipped fifth grade and graduated from high school at 15. But throughout my life she has come up with the most ridiculous definitions, pronunciations and "facts" that I have to believe she graduated from 1929's version of the Sally Struthers Institute of Medical Transcription and Air Conditioner Repair.

From the time I was about 5, if I complained about anything she'd accuse me of being an "ingrate" because I had put her through fourteen hours of back labor before my breech arrival. Or, as she put it, "you were born rectum first". Apparently I came into the world inside out.

Dinner at our house was a real festival. The fun would begin with the array of slop my mother would try to pass off as food, brought to the table in scorched pots and pans. Meat of any kind was either overcooked beyond recognition or swimming in blood. Chicken was boiled. Steaks were fried and served with 2 inches of fat, meant to be ingested, because "it makes your hair shiny." Vegetables came in cans. When my middle sister moved out she called me one night just to say, "Asparagus is actually good."

I recently came up with a list of appropriately named dishes that were a regular part of my mother's culinary repertoire. I figure I'd better make fun of her now, while she's still alive. Here's what's on the menu:

Bazooka Beef - made with the cheapest cut of chuck steak, cooked to death in tomato sauce. I would literally cry eating this because my jaws would ache as if I had chewed 30 pieces of bubble gum.

Mushrooms a Morte - cooked to death. "Sauteed" until they were drowning in their own blackened juices

Flaccid Asparagus - the above-mentioned canned vegetable of choice

Chinese Toast - she'd serve frozen egg rolls for breakfast because, well, they have EGGS in them, right?

Decidedly Lacking-in-Cream Puffs (file under The Frugal Chef)

Triple-Bypass Spaghetti Sauce - served with an inch of floating grease on top

Triple-Bypass Chicken Soup -see above

The Peek-a-Boo ICU Sundae - vanilla ice cream, topped with sour cream

Yes, my father died of a heart attack. My mother, however, is still kicking at 84 and remarkably healthy. I suspect she was ordering takeout and eating it on the sly.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Southern Hospitality

My son and I hopped a plane this morning and flew down to visit my mother here in [freezing] Florida. Figuring that I might be able to hijack a neighbor's wireless network, I brought the laptop.

What I hadn't bargained for was the NAME of the neighbor's network:

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, read my nostalgic T-Day post below, and then shop at my Amazon store!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You Shouldn't Have!

I hate to shop. Seriously. I don't like walking through malls, sifting through sale racks, trying things on. (I never try anything on. I also rarely return anything. You do the math.)

However, I *do* love buying stuff online. And I really love finding the coolest presents for people. The things that say "I know who you are." (I rarely ask "What do you want?" because I think that ruins the fun part of gift-giving.)

So, even though I may not know you, or the people you are buying gifts for this year, I have tons of ideas for you. Books, CDs, DVDs, etc. etc. How convenient that has given me the ability to build a custom online store to share with my blog readers!

I'll be leaving the link to "You Shouldn't Have!" in my sidebar, and I'll be adding to and updating the store on a regular basis. Hope you'll stop by and pick up a few things.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Factoid #13 - Panthergirl's Cult Film Appearance's a retread. But an old one, so hopefully many of you haven't seen it.

As reported in my 100 Factoids, I have a 10-second cameo appearance in the very last segment of the cult film "The Groove Tube" (filmed in 1971 when I was not quite 16 years old.)

Although many people know about the movie, they don't know that it actually originated as a television production that was shown on closed-circuit tv sets in a small upper East Side theater called "Channel One". My friends and I went to see it a couple of times and were huge fans. Most of the segments in the movie were retreads from the Channel One days.

During the summer of 1971, I was working in Manhattan with my aunt at an allergist's office. Most days I wore a nurse's uniform (yeah, yeah...lots of stories about THAT, too) but this was not one of them. As I was on my way out to lunch, my aunt gave me a pack of checks to deposit at the bank. Thousands of dollars. I went to the bank, made the deposit, but on the way back, as I walked down Park Avenue, Ken Shapiro in his pink suit began to sing and dance around me. I saw all the cameras but just assumed they were doing another Channel One thing.

They told me it was for a feature film and asked me to go back to the corner and do several takes. Hundreds of people were inside the lobby of the building, watching the whole scene. The camera guys were cute so I hung out...they asked me to go see the "rushes" the following day. I signed a release (no one ever bothered to see if I was actually 18), they gave me $1, and off I went.

When I excitedly got back to the doctor's office, TWO HOURS later, my glee was quickly extiniguished by my FURIOUS aunt who thought I had been mugged and killed for the deposit money. Needless to say, I didn't get to see the rushes the next day. What you can't see in the clip is that my hair was really, really long which made me pretty recognizable. For the next several weeks people would stop me on the street and say "Weren't you the girl who was in that movie on Park Avenue?"

See my 10 second clip HERE

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Is it me...


...or is Grey's Anatomy getting dangerously close to jumping the shark?

As noted in an earlier post, I crammed Seasons One and Two into a few, bleary-eyed weeks prior to the premiere of the third season. I watched 3, 4 or 5 episodes in a row, often discovering that it was 3 AM and I had to get up for work in a few hours. I watched episodes over and over, and felt as close to being in love with a TV show as one could be. In love. Not just "enjoying", but in love.

I was thrilled to find the official writers' blog called "Grey Matter" on the ABC site. I listened to Shonda Rhimes and Betsey Beers, executive producers, talk about episodes on their podcast. Yes, I was in love.

Then Season Three began. Started out pretty strong, but something felt odd... like when someone you know looks different, but you can't quite figure out what she did, and then you realize she had her eyebrows waxed. Not a dramatic thing, but different nonetheless.

I liked the "Meredith on drugs" week, but by the third episode or so, I was BORED. Can you imagine? Bored. The week before the reruns was the worst. And then the writer's blog was stormed by angry viewers' asking what the HELL was going on with the show. Yet Shonda and Betsey continued to podcast with aplomb... rather self-satisfied and seemingly unfazed by the viewer base that was not quite leaving the room, but eyeing the doors.

This week, most commenters seemed to LOVE the "Where the Boys Are" episode, while I was left feeling 'eh'. Are they trying too hard? Are they thinking that Thursday nights require something different than Sunday nights? I don't know. I just think they've lost their way. I want each episode to have the impact of "Into You Like a Train", or the two-part bomb episode which may be one of the finest 120 minutes that ever aired. Ever.

So, Grey's Anatomy writers, want to see how to keep a show fresh, exciting, but not completely reinvent all your characters? Not have them do ridiculous things that run counter to everything you've told us about them? Not throw all continuity and timelines out the window to the point where we're saying, "Wait...didn't he once say...?"

Watch Nip/Tuck. Delivers with a bang, every single week.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote Early and Often!

Get out there, beat the Republicans, and make Premier George Walter Bush cry!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Most Offensive (and Smartest) Film You'll See This Year

"Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" is wildly funny, mindbendingly gross, and brilliant. Sascha Baron Cohen NEVER breaks character, ever. I've seen him on "Da Ali G Show" on HBO (where this character originated), and I've always been amazed at his ability to become this outrageous person and put people in situations where they bare every racist, sexist and anti-Semitic dark secret they've got. Because they think he's just like them.

He is so good at what he does that it's easy to forget what he's doing, and start to squirm at some of the blackest, but most side-splitting moments. And at times, it's pretty sad to see what people will freely offer up when they think it's "safe". (Like the Virginia rodeo guy who agrees with Borat that hanging homosexuals is a good idea. "We're trying to do that here, too!")

The filmmakers insist that every scene in the film is unstaged. I do have a hard time believing that, but even hardly matters. There are definitely enough very real situations where you're left wondering how he doesn't get himself KILLED, but also admiring him for the huge set of nuts (seen here) he has, and his willingness to use them to expose the dark underbelly of some Americans.

At the same showing, I saw a preview for the new James Bond film. I'm sorry, folks. Daniel Craig just doesn't do it for me. All I could think about when I saw his face on screen was another all-American hero. I give you: