Sunday, January 27, 2008

Holy resurrected beef, Batman!

Published January 27, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Sometimes a column idea comes to me out of nowhere. Sometimes, I have a little help from the world around me. I see a word on a billboard or hear a conversation in a store. Sometimes, however, when no ideas are forthcoming, I find my subjects on the national stage.

Being without a TV to keep up to me up to date on pop culture and current events, I've had to turn to the internet for such things. A quick search of today's headlines yielded a plethora of results. "Study: Bypass better than stents." "The next banking crisis on the way." "Finances made easy." "Cow pronounced dead survives fire." "Stocks storm back."

I looked over those possibilities and thought, boring, bland, not funny, whaaaaa? Cow pronounced dead survives fire? Miracle on the farm? Divine intervention leads to bovine resurrection?

Here's what I'd like to know. Who is it that actually pronounces a cow dead? Is there some emergency vet solemnly stopping his stoic attempts at CPR, turning to an equally solemn veterinary assistant, saying, "Time of death: 5:32 pm. Time of barbecue: 6:00 pm."

So many questions arise from a headline like that. How long did they think the cow was dead? Was there a vigil involved. How did they realize she was alive? Did she just open her eyes and say, "You know...I feel better! I think I'll go for a walk!" Did they leave in search of seasoning and come back to find her gone? Is the cow now considered the "undead," and should we all be guarding our necks.

Apparently, there's video footage of the the cow in question that would shed more light on what happened and why. In fact, the only way to learn more about this incident is to watch the video. Unfortunately for me, I have dialup internet (I know!), so online videos are not really available to me. I'm assuming it's just a news report...perhaps an interview with the supercow.

"So, how does it feel to be the first cow in recorded history to come back from the dead?"



Of course, if it's not a news report, the PETA people are going to be all over it. Can you imagine? "No animals were harmed during the shooting of this video...except the cow, but it's all right. She's back, so killing her doesn't count."

Whatever the actual story, somewhere in the world there is a cow enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame and a few humans feeling mighty stupid for doubting her ability to survive. At some point, I may log on to someone else's computer and watch the video to see just how such a thing happened. If it's interesting enough, I may organize a pilgrimage to visit the hereford chosen one.

I'll bring the steak sauce. You bring the grill.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fat woman in the bounce house!

Published January 13, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

A few years ago, I wrote a column that I lovingly remember as my "NO FAIR!" column. In it, I shared some pretty passionate feelings on what I see as one of the great injustices of our time, namely, the fact that people my age were too old to play in "play places" and bounce houses when they came into vogue and that no such play area is available for adults today.

At the end of that column, I suggested play places for adults should be erected in major cities to rectify this situation immediately. I see my suggestion has gone unheeded. I'm not surprised. Adults are all about maturity and appearances and acting like they're actually older than their children.

Well, to all the adulty adults out there, I can say you don't know what you're missing, and if you did, you wouldn't be missing it....because you'd, uh, know. Circular reasoning, I know, but true nonetheless. I know this because on December 29th, I took a few halting steps across the great bounce house divide and catapulted myself into the childhood fantasy of my grown up dreams. (This sentence makes perfect sense in my head. That ought to count for something.)

The bounce house in question was located at a skating rink in Salt Lake City. It was nestled in among at least seven or eight other bounce houses in a large play area in the middle of the floor. I had abandoned shoes in order to keep an eye on my son in the play area. As I passed the first few houses o' bounce, I was shocked to see children AND adults stepping inside, smiling and bouncing away as if a generation gap were some hereditary tooth problem.

This phenomenon did not escape the notice of my three year old who, upon finding the bounce house he wanted to try, exclaimed in his genuine, three-year-old way, "C'mon Mom!" as he hurried in. There I was, just a foot away from the childhood experience I'd missed and openly craved. Could I? Would I?

Of course, I did make my way into the bounce house, but it was not without a great deal of trepidation. No amount of thick plastic and compressed air will make a woman my size easily forget she's a woman my size. For the first 5 minutes, I barely breathed, certain one wrong move from my, ahem, full figure would puncture this fragile, makeshift balloon and send small children (and their thinner parents) to their untimely deaths. My heart thudded in my chest as I imagined the headline: "Five Killed in Bounce House Tragedy. Overweight Mother of Five in Police Custody."

A few turns pulling myself up by ropes to the top of the slide (Hey! This is like hiking Angel's Landing!) and a few unbalanced tumbles onto my back (Hey! This is like hiking the Narrows!) were all I needed to shed the last of my inhibitions and regress into a childlike fit of giggles and smiles. I raced Michael down the slide and raced him back up the ladder until my cheeks were flushed and my sides were burning and I was more relaxed than I'd been in months. This was better than a massage!

Now the only thing left for me to do is either buy a year's pass to this particular play area or buy a bounce house for myself. As I'm not in Salt Lake full time, buying a bounce house seems the better option. Of course as a cover, I'll rent it out for parties and events. "Sarah's got one of those bounce houses," people will say, "She rents it out to bring in a little extra money." Little will they know I'm outside every night acting like childish lunatic.

I'll let the kids play too...if they're nice.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Let's go to Vegas! I have the key!

Published January 6, 2008
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Writing my New Year's Resolutions last week put me into a goal-setting frame of mind. I've decided it's time for me to focus on a few long term goals. I've opened savings accounts for my kids with college educations in mind. I'm in the process of writing a 5 Year Plan. My most lofty goal, however is one that is very close to my heart. I want a key to the city by the time I'm 45.

I've wanted a key to the city ever since I saw Superman get one in Superman 3. I was young and impressionable and immediately intrigued. Cities had keys? Superman needed one? I mean, he could fly, burn things down with his eyes, and see through walls (and clothes...pervert). Why would he need a key? What lock could keep him out? A key to the city must be really, really special.

I know now that city keys are symbolic and ceremonial in nature. I actually did a little research last night and learned that the practice of bestowing a key to the city began back in feudal times when cities were surrounded by very high walls which were guarded by bureaucrats from the DMV. A key to the city granted its holder unfettered access to the city at any time.

Ceremonial or not, I still want a key. It just sounds really cool. "Hey, Jenn! Let's go to Lake Havasu! I have the key!" "What, Paul? You've never been to Denver? I'll have to take you. We can use my key." "Hold on, Mary. We'll get into Pittsburg as soon as I call the locksmith to the city."

As you can see, the city in question is not as important to me as the key itself. I would be just as happy with the key to Corpus Christi as I would be with the key to Boston. I may not ever need 24 hour access to Lincoln, Nebraska or Sacramento, California, but having the key on my wall would give me 24 hour bragging rights.

The largest obstacle in my quest for a key is the need for me to do something extraordinary to earn the recognition. I make a mean steak and I'm a fair hand at scrapbooking, but I'm not really the type to plunge into a burning building and do anything other than create one more person needing a rescue. This could be tricky.

A little more online research led me to a solution in the form of a company that makes ceremonial keys for cities all over the US. Who needs to make a name for herself when she can point, click, and pay her way into the ceremonial lock of the city of her choice? The only problem I found is that this company sells these keys in bulk. Apparently, cities everywhere have a ready supply of keys to give to any Joe Schmo. Don't believe me? Saddam Hussein was given the key to Detroit in 1980. Look it up!

I suppose if I decide to buy myself the key to a city, I'll just have to include close friends and family in my purchase. If I'm so excited by the prospect of a symbolic key, they will be too! Nothing says I love you like unfettered access to a beautiful, exciting, and exotic city 24 hours a day.

Mom, Dad, Richard, Becca, Cory, Diane...Welcome to Poughkeepsie!