Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm in shock.

Before Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom co-wrote Bo. My father just called me at work with the news that on the eve of one of the biggest games in the history of University of Michigan football, Bo Schembechler died of a heart attack.

Bo Schembechler, former head coach and athletic director. Bo, who had a 194-48-5 record over his 20 years at Michigan. When my mom got her copy of Bo autographed, it was not Mitch Albom's signature she sought; it was Bo's. Albom was "just" a sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press back then.

I grew up in Ann Arbor, home of Schembechler Hall, with season tickets to U of M football and basketball games. You can't grow up in Ann Arbor and not know about Bo. Especially when your mother is the former president of the U of M club of Ann Abor, the alumni booster club for Michigan athletics. It is true that when she stepped down as president, Coach Lloyd Carr presented her with a glass-encased autographed football that stayed on our mantlepiece for at least a year. She has a Bo Schembechler bobble-head.

And you can't talk about Bo without talking about his rivalry with legendary Ohio State Coach Woody Hayes. And tomorrow is the Michigan-Ohio State game. Both teams are undefeated. The outcome of this game determines who gets to go to the National Championship. Take a deep breath.

Even if this game didn't have so much riding on it, Ohio State is still Michigan's biggest rival, beating out Michigan State and Notre Dame. When my parents went to Buckeye country for a Michigan/OSU game once, they got all the way back to Ann Arbor before they noticed the red bumper sticker on the back of the mini van. And then wouldn't go into the house until it was removed. Our neighbor Steve, who ushers all Michigan basketball games and is also a member of the booster club, has a cottage in Ohio. In the weeks leading up to the game, he gets repeated phone calls from his neighbors down there. They even started calling and harassing my mom and she doesn't even know them. He once got a Woody Hayes bobble head in the mail.

The conversation with my father quickly turned to how Bo's death will affect the game tomorrow. I suggested it would inspire the team to win the game. Win it for Bo! My dad is concerned that Coach Carr will be distracted all day with the haunting question, "what would Bo do?". For a moment, we cringed at ourselves. A man has died. Think about his family, it is just a football game. But like I told my dad, I guarentee you, wherever Bo is now, he's horrified at the timing of his death. He was superstitious and the last thing he'd want for a U of M/OSU match up are distractions of any kind. One thing is for certain, he won't miss this game no matter where he is.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Equity Actors Foaming at the Mouth

A while back I was in a storage closet of the basement offices of the theatre where I work part-time. I'd been in there dozens of times, but never before noticed the presence of three peculiar labels affixed to the top shelf.

So I went to my boss, "So, um, why is there a shelf in the closet labeled "Breast cancer prevention, quitting smoking and sexually transmitted diseases?".

"Because there used to be a Planned Parenthood in here."

I'm guessing they kept their extra pamphlets on that shelf.

Who knew St. Paul Minnesota's "Historic Hamm Building" was once home to an abortion clinic?

Which perhaps explains why there is thick (bullet-proof?) plastic between the waiting room and the reception desk. And all this time I thought it was to kept rabid auditioning actors from lunging at the director.

I'd like to introduce...

...my brother Garfield. He plays washboard in Idaho's only Zydeco band. Sometimes, if you are lucky, he busts out the cowbell as well.*

*This is not true. Not a word.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

That is 8 "golf"s in 1 sentence by the way.

My favorite thing about working in college admissions is the entrance essays. I'd love to provide some examples on this blog of choice essay topics, awkward sentence structure or incorrect word usage, but I'd be fired.

A close second to the essays are the random transcripts from school that you could've never imagined even existed. Case in point:
Professional Golfers Career College:

"If you're looking for a golf college program that provides a golf education for a golf career in the golf industry including golf management, golf instruction and golf business, then PGCC is the golf school you need to attend."


Let's talk curriculum. "The objective of the program is to help the student attain a fundamental grounding in professional golf management, including an introduction to the theory and practice of golf shop operations." What exactly is theoretical about running a Pro Shop? Either you carry that brand of clubs or you don't. I can only imagine Calligraphy is offered so you can fill out those Hole-in-One certificates. Psychology of Golf actually sounds kind of interesting. But I'm pretty sure your credits for Turf Management aren't going to transfer over to this learning institution, sorry.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dear Lord in Heaven

I am dating a woman who wears NASCAR cologne.

Good thing I saw that in her bathroom only after I'd decided I like her. Yes, I am so shallow that seeing "Daytona 500" in the medicine cabinet early on might've sent me packing.

I mean seriously, is it made outta synthetic Dale Earnhart Jr. pheromones or something? Yuck. I didn't even realize until I Googled this image that the cap looks like a tire. Classy.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rinse. Repeat.

I spent last weekend 4 miles from the Kansas border in Superior, Nebraska. My dad and I were visiting my Grandmother and her husband, Arlo (Isn't that like THE best name for a retired Nebraskan farmer: "Arlo"). The peculiar part about the visit is that this is my maternal grandmother, but my mom didn't go. My grandmother moved from Michigan to Nebraska when she married Arlo in 2002. My mother has been to see her in Nebraska once, and apparently that was enough. My sister and brother-in-law have also been to see them in Superior. My sister's advice? "Try to shower right before you leave and pick up some groceries between the airport and their house."

This did not bode well.

My dad flew into Lincoln Municipal Airport from Detroit and I from Minneapolis Friday night. Municipal airport. I can't think of a time I've flown into an airport that wasn't "International." Even the airport in Kalamazoo, MI where I went to college was "international," even if it's only because they have two flights to Canada. Detroit and Minneapolis are both Northwest Airlines hubs. I'm used to multiple concourses devoted solely to NWA flights. My dad and I were on the only 2 NWA flights coming into Lincoln that night. Lincoln airport has four gates. When departing from there, everyone waits in the cafe. When you see your airplane taxi to your gate, it is only then that you go to security.

If this wasn't already feeling spooky and isolated enough, it was still a two hour drive to Superior. The minute we left I-80, we lost all cell phone reception for the remainder of the weekend.

First let's discuss the food. The reason behind my sister's recommendation to get our own groceries became clear at breakfast Saturday. There was a cereal box held together with tape. I'm not sure if Grams and Arlo are eating stale/spoiled food because they can't see well enough to notice or because they are such penny-pinching geezers that they'd rather have Fear Factor-type meals rather than let something go to waste. In order to wash down the stale bran flakes, I reached for my glass of orange juice. I had registered the glass out of the corner of my eye and reached for without really looking. I took a swig...and then used all the strength I could muster to swallow it. Ever had some O.J. that is a couple days past the expiration and it has a kinda tangy taste to it? This was beyond tangy. This was an attempt to ferment O.J. into the world's first citrus wine. I set down the glass to see a half inch of clear liquid rise to the top. Like moonshine. I hid the juice glass behind the box of cereal and then, under the guise of being a dutiful granddaughter, offered to clear the table so I could dump it out without hurting anyone's feelings.

There is the salad that the rest of the world eats, and then there is salad in the Midwest. OK, I've lived in 3 cities that are considered part of the Midwest. But the key word there is "city" as opposed to "town" or "village." Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo and Minneapolis all have food co-ops and a variety of restaurants to choose from. The menu of the only restaurant I went to in Nebraska offered baskets of deep-fried chicken gizzards.

My first of three weekend salad experiences was at the house. Grams asked me to cut up an apple. When I took an apple out of the fridge, it was so rotten my thumb sunk into it. I salvaged what I could of the apple and we enjoyed a "salad" of iceberg lettuce, apple chunks and sliced banana mixed with Miracle Whip mayonnaise. Jigga What?

That night at 80 Acres, the chicken gizzard joint, I picked the "salad bar only" option, sight unseen. I piled my plate high with, you guessed it, iceberg lettuce. God forbid we eat some actual greens with nutritional value and flavor. I turned to the rest of the salad bar to discover that the only other raw veggie available were whole baby carrots. The rest of the salad fixins were bacon bits, cheese, croutons and thick creamy dressings. The second half of the salad bar had things like pudding, pasta salad, potato salad and that fluff you usually only see at family reunions that is a combination of marshmallows, cool whip and Jell-O. There wasn't even canned pineapple in the fluff. There wasn't even cottage cheese. And there certainly wasn't any tomato, mushroom, cucumber, olives, broccoli or cauliflower. The only other veggies available were a mix of green beans, corn, peas and vinegar. And I don't mean balsamic vinaigrette. I mean vinegar. And those veggies were clearly from a can because the peas were the color of the shag carpet in Elvis' jungle room.

My third salad was at the Sunday brunch buffet at the Elk's Lodge. Every Sunday Arlo has a 12 seater table reserved for the Methodists. I was informed on the way to the Elk's club that the men would be sitting at one end of the table and women on the other. Arlo is currently boycotting church; something to do with "that lady minister." It was never clear if the boycott was solely because the minister is female or if there is some other reason. Because of the boycott, we ended up at the Elk's Lodge 20 minutes before everyone else. Church must've ran over. So we spent 20 minutes with my dad and Arlo sitting 6 seats away from myself and Grams. I've never felt so ridiculous. My feminist sensibilities were so violated by these seating arrangements that I told Arlo that the reason God created Woman after Man was because He didn't get it right the first time. Man was a rough draft, if you will. I couldn't help myself. And the salad bar there? Virtually identical to the one at 80 Acres. And the coffee? As bad as back at Grams' house.

We drank coffee from sun up to sun down. Coffee with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Having chili on Saturday afternoon while watching the Nebraska football game? What beverage could possibly go better with chili than a hot cuppa joe? And this coffee was rancid. If we were lucky, it was so weak that it was basically (to steal an Ani Difranco lyric) "water dressed in brown." If the coffee had any flavor, it was from the grounds that had slipped past the filter into our mugs. Grounds that came from a big plastic vat. I took to telling Grandma I couldn't drink so much coffee or I wouldn't be able to sleep, even though it was so weak it wouldn't rouse an infant.

And sleep was not a problem. Their circulation not being was it used to, Grams and Arlo kept the thermostat up around 80. My dad and I both slept with our bedroom windows open. They also kept the curtains drawn the entire weekend, the combination of heat and lack of light creating some sort of eerie cocoon. The fact that the conversation was often as flat and boring as the landscape didn't help any either. I spent the whole weekend nodding off, waking up to find the conversation still hadn't strayed from talking about the weather that we couldn't see through the curtains, but was permanently displayed on the Weather Channel. I had many a mini-nap in that armchair that had a cloth placemat attached to the top with upholstery tacks. Are people's heads really so greasy that we must take such drastic measures to preserve the fabric? Judging from the tan stain on my pillowcase in the guest bedroom, the answer appears to be, "yes."
Perhaps my Grandma has some secret friends with a fondness for Jheri Curl. Which I doubt, because I didn't see one person of color the entire time I was in Nebraska.

Perhaps people's heads are greasy due to the guest bathroom accommodations. My sister's shower-before-departure recommendation was due to the bathtub. Just a bathtub. No shower curtain, no shower head, just the tub. When I was on exchange in France, my host family had a similar set-up. I took to calling it the Sit N Splash. But at least they had a shower head on a hose you could use to rinse. Grandma just has a faucet 6 inches from the bottom of the tub. What the fuck am I supposed to do with this? They are living like pioneers in Nebraska. I assume that Grandma and Arlo had a shower in the Master bath. There is no way that Arlo is taking baths at his age and an artificial knee. But we were never offered use of this bathroom.

Neither Dad or I bathed on Saturday. As we went to bed Saturday night, I took him aside and said, "I must bathe tomorrow." Kinda like my proclamation earlier in the day that we must find Diet Coke, something cold and caffeinated after a day of lukewarm nastiness.

When I entered the bathroom Sunday morning, I found a wet tub with what looked like rust flakes on the bottom and a plastic kegger cup on the side. My dad helped me piece together the sequence of events later. He found the plastic kegger cup in the kitchen when helping with breakfast, with the intention of filling it with the tub faucet to rinse. A makeshift Sit N Splash if you will. But when he turned on the faucet, it took several minutes before the water ran clear because of lack of use and hard water mineral deposits. Hence the rust-like flakes. So Dad decided to forgo any full-body cleansing and settled for kneeling on the floor over the edge of the tub and washing his hair with the kegger cup and a sample of hotel shampoo from his travel kit. Because neither of us had any intention of using the shampoo Grandma had provided: a bottle of Suave shampoo-and-conditioner-in-one that, from the looks of it, hasn't been on store shelves since circa 1984. I guessing the date based not only on the label design, but the overall crustyness of the cap.

Unfortunately, just washing the hair was not an option for me. You see, I hadn't showered for two days in a row at this point. I usually shower every morning, but hadn't on Friday because I'd showered Thursday night after a vigorous round of apartment cleaning. Funny how cleaning can make one feel so dirty. So by Sunday morning, I was starting to feel oily and itchy. At this point, taking a bath is out. I'm not sitting in the tub with the flakes. Besides, I've never been one to view baths as a real way of getting clean. I've taken the occasional bath for relaxation purposes, but usually end up rinsing off in the shower afterwards. Because really, a bath is just you stewing in your own juices. So, if France had the Sit N Splash, Nebraska has the Squat N Dump. This consisted of stripping down, squatting in the tub, knees braced against the sides for balance, wetting a washcloth, washing the soap (it was all gunky from the soapdish), giving myself a sponge bath, and dumping kegger cupfuls of water on myself to rinse. Then repeating similar steps for my hair.

And then properly showering immediately upon arrival in Minneapolis apartment.

UPDATE! Photographic evidence of the iceberg lettuce, apple and banana salad in progress. I think the Miracle Whip is still in the fridge at this point. But please note the coffee is brewing. Goes great with chili.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hey GOP! We're gaining on ya! Can't you feel our breath?

We took the House! You better recognize!

In related news...file this under You can't make this shit up.

Courtesy of the
crazy rat lady:

"My god. I am so in love with this photo! It’s
Rick Santorum & his family…it almost looks like it’s straight out of a Christopher Guest movie or something…"



If you are even going to own a doll at that girl's age, it stays in your bedroom on a shelf, not tucked under your arm at Republican Headquarters.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

R.I.P. Aggie

P-Funk got a call from her ex the other night. Turns out their hamster had died. Damn lesbians and their joint custody of pets! This is the first time I've ever heard of a hamster though. So she was kinda down and I suggested we stay in a watch a movie instead of going out as planned. So what movie did I choose?

Garden State.

Probably the only movie in existance with an extended hamster funeral scene.

Smooth move Smitty.