Daisy Dukes Versus Cargo Shorts

In preparation for a camping trip, I went shopping for some shorts. In both sports stores, I walked down the dividing aisle between men’s and women’s clothing. To the left, there were rugged, cargo shorts in every earth tone and print. To the right, low-rise, butt-cheek-skimming daisy dukes in garish colors. Apparently, men require comfort and practicality when camping or engaging in sports activities and women do not.

I still have the heart-shaped butt of my youth, except now it’s upside down.

I was frothing at the mouth by the time I made my way to the end of my department, with nothing suitable for camping in hand. In the end, I bought myself men’s cargo shorts. Admittedly, they make me look a bit like Man Mountain Dean. But I think anyone walking behind me will be grateful for the boxy cargo shorts when the alternative was an unrestricted view of butt cheeks that have endured the forces of gravity for forty-seven years.

Am I wrong?

7 x 7 Link Award

My pal over at Celluloid Zombie passed along this award, which led me to revisit some old blog posts.

The rules to the 7 x 7 Link Award are simple:

  1. Tell everyone something about yourself that nobody else knows.
  2. Link to a post I think fits the following categories: Most Beautiful Piece, Most Helpful Piece, Most Popular Piece, Most Controversial Piece, Most Surprisingly Successful Piece, Most Underrated Piece, Most Pride Worthy Piece.
  3. Pass this on to 7 fellow bloggers.

And we’re off.

Tell everyone something about yourself that nobody else knows

If not one person knew some deep, dark secret of mine, I can’t imagine why I’d suddenly tell everyone. But here’s the thing…I’m a pretty open person. I’d offer up even the most cringe-inducing confession if I thought someone else would benefit by it. So there you go. Not nearly as exciting as the bodies under the floorboards over at Celluloid Zombie, I know.

1. Most Beautiful Piece

Without hesitation, my most beautiful piece—One Two Three Kick—is about the person responsible for so many happy moments in my childhood (even if I do shudder when re-reading the paragraphs detailing the excessive snacking. What did we know? It was the 70s.)

2. Most Helpful Piece

Felix the Cat and MacGyver inspired this post that I hope encouraged you to consider how the simplest things and a bit of imagination can take life from mundane to memorable. Check out Felix the Cat and MacGyver Picnic on a Purple Sarong.

3. Most Popular Piece

Reading Old Journals…Yikes! struck a chord with many readers. It is my leader in Comments and what great comments they are.

4. Most Controversial Piece

Controverisal? Moi? Well, if you’re planning on hiring me sometime in the future, please don’t read Denim, the evil fabric until we’ve finalized all the contracts.

5. Most Surprisingly Successful Piece

Who could have guessed that my family recipe for Migliaccio (Italian Farina Custard) would top my Most Viewed chart? When did farina, eggs, and sugar become so popular? It just goes to prove that the whole, bubbling concoction is greater than the sum of its parts. With Easter right around the corner, you don’t want to miss this one.

6. Most Underrated Piece

Apparently, readers don’t want to hear about one of the more embarrassing moments in my life or the possibility that Child Protective Services has a file on me for subjecting a minor to naked aliens. If that sort of thing doesn’t interest you either, then don’t read Signs.

7. Most Pride Worthy Piece

My post Travel: Gaeta, Italy in October is the one I’m most proud of. It was a labor of love to condense two of the best weeks of my life into a CliffsNotes travelogue. I’m so hopeful that someone out there will make this very trip and then tell me all about their experience. I love reminiscing about this vacation and I often return to this post to immerse myself in a sea of memories.

My 7 Nominees

I know people are busy, so don’t feel obligated to participate. However, you are the ones that entertain me the most and it would be fun to read some of your posts I may have missed.

Altared Spaces

Finding the Humor


Huffygirl’s Blog

Mostly Bright Ideas

The Fordeville Diaries

The Glowing Edge

Winter Status Update in Bullet Points

  • January and February are not my favorite months.
  • I go into hibernation mode.
  • I run less.
  • I stretch less.
  • My hamstrings tighten up.
  • I eat comfy foods more.
  • My love handles bulk up.
  • My belly looks like Baby Roo has taken up residence.
  • My back aches.
  • The number on the scale increases.
  • I don’t walk as much.
  • I don’t get as much fresh air.
  • I don’t get as much sunlight.
  • My mind is not as sharp.
  • I am reduced to writing in bullet points.
  • My emotions are not as stable.
  • I make the scary discovery that the state of my mind really does influence how well I land planes on Flight Control HD on the iPad.
  • I decide that putting my fate into the hands of an air traffic controller who has been running less, eating comfy foods, not getting enough fresh air and sunshine, and feeling a bit out of it may not be such a great idea.

But there’s hope.

  • The days are getting longer.
  • They’re also getting warmer.
  • I’ve had just about all I can handle of comfy foods.
  • My tight, aching body actually is beginning to crave exercise and fresh air again.
  • I have a gift certificate for a massage waiting to be redeemed.
  • The Chopra Center is sponsoring a 21-Day Meditation Challenge, which begins on Monday, February 20th.
  • My life coach buddy has invited me to her 3-day Soulful Cleanse.
  • I’ve made some progress on the novel.
  • March is right around the corner.
  • History indicates I do this every year and always spring back.

How are you surviving the winter?

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

A difference of opinion is no reason to eat my brain.

For many of us who read novels or watch movies in genres outside the realm of “this could happen in real life,” there is a willing suspension of disbelief before we enter the theater or open the cover of a book (or press whichever Kindle button). We’re excited. We’re ready to be entertained. And we participate in the experience by opening ourselves to what realists would call the impossible…

Tonight I am guest blogging over at Celluloid Zombie about the willing suspension of disbelief. Though Richard Lamb and I disagree on this topic (just one of many), he’s busy at work and will permit even someone he disagrees with to guest blog at his site. Lucky for me.

So jump on over with me to Celluloid Zombie and chime in and tell us your opinion.

Silicone, silicone everywhere and not a drop to drink

…said the snake. You’ve heard the story, right? In the news a couple of weeks ago? A model handling a snake during a photo shoot had her fake boob bit by the snake…who promptly died. Her silicone implant supposedly ruptured and the snake ingested some. They gave her a tetanus shot for the snake bite. But what about that silicone that’s doing a slow drip inside of her. You know, the silicone that KILLED THE SNAKE. Well, apparently, the story is not true. The snake did not die of silicone poisoning. That was just a rumor that major newspapers picked up without verifying. Must be nice to get paid for making stuff up. “Um, never mind,” said the fiction writer.

What about this story? A mother of a four-year-old is suing a private pre-school because it did not adequately prepare the child to take the entrance exams required to get into the most elite elementary schools in New York. She’s also claiming they didn’t prepare her daughter for the Ivy League. Lady, you’ve been smoking too much ivy. You make Tiger Mom look like a pussycat rolling in catnip. Get a grip. She’s four. And go see the film Race to Nowhere. The popcorn’s on me.  

Talk about people who are out of their quacking mind…Gilbert Gottfried. When you’re the spokesduck for a major insurance company, maybe you shouldn’t make jokes about tsunami victims. Only “Aflac”ing idiot would do that. Or a comedian.

 …Or a governor’s press secretary. Governor Haley Barbour’s press secretary, Dan Turner, resigned after making a Japan earthquake joke in an email. When public figures want to moonlight as comedians, they should take a tip from the Unknown Comic. Insert head into paper bag, do a little dance, tell joke, return to day job, no one the wiser.

And thanks to ABC for sending the wonderful message that you can destroy their offices and break their windows, sending glass raining down on the pedestrian-filled, Times Square streets of New York, and be invited back for another interview. And the award for prolific creator of real-life stories he doesn’t want to talk about in interviews goes to…Chris Brown. Idiot!

“That’s all the news that’s fit to print,” said the journalists.

Pet Peeve – Charity Waste

I just finished compiling my income tax information for my accountant and I feel about 20 pounds lighter despite the Nutella I ate from the jar last night. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. 😉

I’m a bit nutty when it comes to keeping records of our spending. It’s an odd hobby, I know, but I input everything, and I mean everything, into Quicken. It takes some time, but it’s worth it. I can tell you important stuff, like exactly what I spent on coffee in March 2010, and how much we laid out at the hardware store for electrical tape, used as hockey pucks when playing in the driveway.

In past years, it brought me some joy to know that I was increasing my charitable contributions year after year. But recently, with my cost of living increasing and my salary unchanged, I’ve had to cut back in all categories, charity included. And so, I’ve become increasingly careful about where those hard-earned dollars go. Where will they do the most good? Which charities are the most responsible and deserve my money?

A few years ago, I discovered Charity Navigator. It evaluates the financial health of over 5,500 of America’s largest charities, providing information on how much they spend on program and administrative expenses, what their mission is, how much they pay their executives, etc. Based on this information, it assigns them a score and a 0- to 4-star rating. I was shocked to see some popular charities rated so low. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which ones. I decided to contribute only to 4-star charities in the future.

Obviously, there are people who disagree with how the ratings are calculated, blah, blah, blah. However, since I’m not an accountant and can’t take the time from my already busy life to begin a third career in financial research, Charity Navigator is the next best thing. It also comes in handy when those annoying telemarketers call at dinnertime. “You want my money? Hang on one sec while I look you up on Charity Navigator…Oh, only one star. Sorry, I only give money to 4-star charities. Have a good night.”

So here’s my pet peeve. There are two hugely popular charities, which I will not name here. One is rated with one star, the other four. They both send me gazillions of return address labels with their donation request forms. So do other charities. I end up throwing tons of them out because I don’t mail much anymore. I pay all my bills online. But the thing that drives me crazy about these two charities is that the return address labels are always incorrect. One charity repeats my address line; the other chops off half of my surname. They go right in the recycling bin, along with the envelopes and inserts. It makes my blood boil. I don’t know how much these “gifts” cost to produce, but I say knock it off already. I don’t need them or want them. If I wasn’t planning on giving you money, I’m not going to be swayed by your address labels.

Okay, I feel better now. Thanks for listening. I’m slowly backing away from the Nutella jar.

Those Pesky Spammers

Do you ever wonder if spammers make money on the products they hawk? Does the huge volume of annoying emails and links they put out into the world result in hits and sales? I can’t imagine how.

I’m no expert at selling (and maybe I’ll tell you that story of woe in a future post), but it seems to me that when you barge into someone’s world uninvited, scream “I’m here,” and then start unpacking your bag of goods, you’re not going to make friends or influence people.

Spam filters are pretty good these days. I give a quick glance at my Junk Mail folder and delete most of the contents unread. But with blogging, a bit more care is required. You don’t want to delete a legitimate comment.

The other morning it was easy. My post “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” got a cheery “Hi, all!” followed by a link to some site, which went unchecked by me. Delete.

I’ll admit it left me scratching my head. Knowing that many people subscribe to comments, why would someone who wanted to lure potential customers to their wares pick a post with 5 comments rather than one with, say, 41 (Typical Day in the Life of a Writer)?

Sometimes, it’s more difficult to determine whether the spam software overreacted.

Your ideas profound and enjoy me much.

There wasn’t a link in the body of that comment. Could my spam filter be discriminating on the basis of English proficiency? I copied the link that identified the commenter and pasted it into Google. Judging by the long list of hits, other people’s profound ideas enjoy my commenter much, too. Isn’t that special? Delete.

By far, the oddest spam I’ve received is this recent email:

Hi Margaret,

I think I have a great feature for your website that is free and will enhance your site with an interactive element. It takes a minute to implement and it is 100% free. You just put a link on your site like, “Live Wrestling Chat” and we host the chats. You will also earn money while your visitors are talking. There is really no downside. Also, if you think you do not have enough visitors to keep a chat busy we are working with other wrestling sites so users from each site can talk to each other.

Say what? Wrestling? Have you seen my website? I guess I didn’t make it clear that The Benefactor is the name of my novel and not my wrestling nickname.

The crowd goes wild as Margaret “The Benefactor” Dempsey takes the ring.

In an attempt to write as general a message as possible to appeal to the largest audience, you pick wrestling as the type of website most people are likely to have? What was this guy thinking?

I have no more words. Just a great big sigh.

Chocolate Gelt, Bobbleheads, and Hormonal Women: A Recipe for Disaster

Men, stick around. This is a public service announcement for you...and sports are mentioned.

If you are even slightly hormonal, I warn you: Stay away from the chocolate gelt. This holiday tradition is capable of turning women of a certain age…well, that’s just say peri-homicidal.

I know there are some countries that have the tradition of chocolate coins for Christmas, but living in New York, I know it as a Hanukkah tradition. I’m not Jewish, but chocolate eating is a nondenominational kind of thing for me. So I welcomed that cute mesh bag filled with shiny, foil-covered chocolate coins from Trader Joe’s.

With the craziness of the holidays, I never got to eat them. But there came a day in January when I eyed them on the kitchen counter and thought, tonight’s the night. The moon was rising, the hormones were surging. Chocolate for medicinal purposes it would be.


I settle on the couch with a New York Islanders throw. (This and things like bobbleheads I permit in my home provided they stay in the basement or family room. I can think of nothing more disturbing than sitting on my living room sofa, sipping tea from an antique, bone china cup while staring at a miniature Mike Bossy with a neck tic. But I digress.) The channel is set to Criminal Minds, because when you’re hormonal, watching serial killers is the next best thing to being one.

I pick up the mesh bag and begin to salivate just a bit from the anticipation of a chocolate coin melting in my mouth. I try to open it from the top, but the seal is impenetrable. No problem, I’ll just rip through the mesh bag, right?

You’re thinking, go get a pair of scissors. And normally, I would, but Hotch has just been served divorce papers. Apparently, the serial killers see him more than his wife does. Now he’s really never going to smile again. Bossy shakes his bobblehead slowly, knowing all that traveling he did with the team could have led to the same end for him.

I can almost taste that freaking chocolate and the bag still isn’t open, but I have wounds resembling paper cuts all over my fingers. My mind flashes an image of dolphins caught in mesh fishing nets. Whew! Where did that come from? Down estrogen, down girl.

I feel a mini-rage building, kind of like Dom Deluise in Fatso when he tries to rip the cabinets off the wall to get to the food. Finally, the bag tears. I’m so happy I could cry. My shaky fingers reach in and pull out the largest of the coins. But now I have to peel the foil off, and the nails on my nifty opposable thumbs aren’t up to the job. Have you ever tried to do things without the help of your thumbs? Every once in a while I tuck my thumbs into my palms and go about my regular chores. Hmmm, maybe that’s why my novel isn’t getting written.

I dig into that first coin using the nails on my other fingers like a handicapped raccoon trying to lift the cover off a garbage pail. I place the chocolate disk on my tongue. Mmmm. I want to let it melt slowly, but I end up chewing it like some big cat eating a baby zebra on the National Geographic Channel. It’s gone and now I have to open another.

Just then, a childhood memory surfaces—my Uncle Sal at Beefsteak Charlie’s. Remember that restaurant from the 1970’s with the unlimited salad bar and peel-and-eat shrimp? Uncle Sal would take a plate full of shrimp and sit and peel it all. Then, he’d transfer it to a clean plate, add some cocktail sauce and sit and enjoy them all at once. Really civilized. I envied him his patience. I just don’t have it when it comes to food. Still, I’m willing to try the peel-and-eat method with the chocolate gelt.

I sit and peel one after the other as my body trembles, a cacao addict in need. I make it to the end, but it’s no use. With all those naked coins sitting there in front of me, they’ll be no savoring the melting of each on my tongue. No way. I chow down, eating every last coin in 3.5 seconds. Hotch and his team have solved the mystery. They’re on the plane returning to Quantico. And Mike Bossy is sneering at me and nodding his head in a contemptuous way. That little bobblebastard.

Suddenly, furry ears pop up behind the TV. It’s Sweety and she’s eyeing Mike Bossy. Get him, Sweety! Get him! And she does. No, the National Geographic Channel’s got nothing on us.

Denim, the evil fabric

Beware the Evil Denim

I often find myself in a daydream, pondering the absurdities of life. The power of curse words is a favorite. The banning of books another. Today I’m thinking about denim and why it has long been considered an evil fabric capable of ruining sales, toppling corporations, and bringing economic collapse to a nation.

First, a disclaimer. I love denim. Love it. It can be dressed up, down, all around. It comes in different colors and cuts. It’s comfortable. You put on a pair of jeans and forget about it. There’s no fussing and fixing and adjusting. It’s easy and leaves you free to concentrate on the important stuff in life.

Unfortunately, someone long ago decided denim was not an acceptable fabric for the workplace. The suit would be the standard business attire. Pin stripes, single breasted, double breasted…the styles have changed, but the suit remains in wool, silk, and blends. Men would be taken seriously only if they wore a strip of material from their necks that flapped in the wind and smacked them in the face or dipped into their soup at power lunches. Don’t tell me the inventor of the tie wasn’t a man with a hang-up about his extreme “outie” belly button that showed through a thin dress shirt and needed covering up.

One of my early employers was an oddball on many levels, but the height of his eccentricity was his insistence on a stringent dress code at work. On my first day, I was handed the book “Dress for Success” by my immediate supervisor who rolled her eyes and nodded in the direction of the head honcho’s office. Never mind that it was 1990 and the copyright date of that edition was 1977. I flipped through it and felt a shiver crawl up my spine. Skirted suits that fell below the knee with front kick pleats and polyester shirts with long strands of fabric at the neck to be tied in foofy bows. Sensible pumps. Calgon, take me away.

At least my supervisor was in her 50s and probably had some of that stuff in the back of her closet. But I was 12 in 1977. For me, it would require a trip to a vintage store. When I arrived home that first day, I immediately called Mom, who is a conjurer of department store finds and she set me up with a bunch of ugly stuff my grandmother wouldn’t wear but would please the wretched retro police.

Future jobs were similar in their insistence on no denim, but at least allowed you to wear suits that were fashionable at the time. I could never understand the tunnel vision on this issue. It seemed to be oddly focused on fabric and not about the resulting image. So you ended up many times with employees who wore suits but looked like hell. Like the guy in the suit that fit him 50 pounds ago, the pants worn low-rise by necessity, right around his groin, with a barrel of a belly tumbling over. Yellow rings around his collar and splashes of something, yesterday’s lunch maybe, on his greying white shirt. Buttons popped and not replaced. Is someone dressed in crisp, clean denim worse than this guy?

I understand the need for restrictions in work attire, even if just for the mental health of the people in the vicinity of the offending employee. I once worked for a company that had a summer casual dress policy until one of the guys went and ruined it for the rest of us. He was reprimanded for the shortness of his shorts. I’ll admit it was scary. I think it was just such an occasion that the expression “waiting for the ball to drop” was invented. Productivity decreased as employees took to gambling on the outcome. Cards with L or R were cast and bets were taken. At around the same time, there was a squirrel infestation at the office. They’d scurry around his feet waiting for…Yeah, I know, ewwwww. But it’s a true story. Well, except for the squirrels…and the gambling.

Some companies have begun to relax, especially as denim has become more sophisticated in dark washes and trouser cuts. But there are still some that forbid the evil fabric. Just another one of life’s absurdities.

[Special thanks to Carl D’Agostino for providing the following cartoon. You can check out his other work at I Know I Made You Smile.]

“Again” with the Uma Stalker

“This again is an order of protection for you to stay away from Uma Thurman. You are not to even call her.” –Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro

Are you kidding me? The italicized “again” says it all. When will you realize that Jack Jordan will never stop stalking Uma Thurman. He’s psychotic. Does Uma have to end up chopped into a million little pieces before someone takes this situation seriously and decides we need stricter laws for repeat stalkers.

Orders of protection are ridiculous. They assume that psychos follow rules and have impulse control. He’s in jail now without bail. Don’t let him out this time. Get him the extensive psychiatric care he needs. If that can’t be done in prison, then have him legally committed with no chance of escape. Give Uma her life back.

His defense lawyer, Paul Feinman, urged that he be placed in protective custody for fear he would face threats of inmate violence. What a laugh! Uma Thurman and her children have faced the potential of violence every day for the past five years. Some might say, “Why the hell shouldn’t he? It might be an empathy raising experience.”

Actually, I said that, but I quickly realized my anger is misplaced. He is a sick man, after all. If only the legal players who continue to fall down on the job with these types of cases could walk in the victims’ shoes…I bet things would change then.

If you agree, click the Like button. Who knows, maybe someone will notice.

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