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My humorous thoughts about life.

"My Humorous and Helpful Thoughts About Teaching / Educational Resources for Your Classroom / Music and Random Fun"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts #AtoZ

If I ever wish to get published, I guess I need to spend less time blogging and more time working on my manuscript, "Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts." I was inspired to write this book from Halloween memories as a kid. My mother had repeatedly told me not to eat ANYTHING unwrapped. Being ridiculously  obedient, each year I skipped gooey pieces of grease on a plate of powdered sugar. Boy was I a dumb kid!

Years later my mom said, "Well, you could have eaten something unwrapped from Mrs. Zimmerman."

Why didn't you tell me that sooner, Mom? Since it's too late for me to go back and down a donut--having moved to another city and given up sugar--I invented a character named Knob. He wears a buzz cut that makes his head look like a door knob. Unlike me, Knob has a wild Mohawk wearing buddy who will teach him how to break the rules with style.

I hope one day you'll be able to visit your local bookstore and pick up a copy of "Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts." Until then, read my blog.

Thanks for sticking around for the AtoZ Challenge. Tomorrow I will be participating in the six sentence Sunday. Now what am I supposed to write about throughout the rest of May? Please come back because I know I'll figure something out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Real Life YoYos #AtoZ

Being 2011, finding yoyos is much easier with Al Gore's invention of the internet. All you have to do is go to YouTube and search, "The People of Walmart." So maybe after viewing those photos, what I saw wasn't that odd, but still, these strangers remain ingrained in my memory.

My family took a vacation to Chicago when I was a little tyke, and we saw some oddities walking down the street as if nothing was unusual about them. A man had a faucet stuck to his head and I embellished this scene in my writing. I combined the scene with the stranger on the Paris subway who leaned over passengers, flapped his hands like he was dog paddling, and said, "Awook!" No, I didn't make this up. The truth is stranger than fiction. But, I did make up the flash fiction story which I've placed at the end of this post.

I have yet to find a story for the man with feathers sticking out of his hat or Dracula, the man who shared a train with my daughter. But fear not. I'm a writer, so these individuals will make their way into my fiction because a yoyo is worth preserving!

I can't believe tomorrow's post is for the letter Z! This month went fast. Please tune in as I discuss my work in progress (WIP) called Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts. And finally, if you're interested, here's Faucet Head.

Faucet Head

     A scraggy man with a faucet stuck to his forehead pulled his Harley  into the reststop, while Alanna poked at the busted drinking fountain. Standing behind her, he flipped his hands like a dog paddling through a crusty pond. The stranger, reeking of dead fish, leaned over her shoulder and said, “Awook!”

      Alanna calmly stroked her dry throat and reached for the stranger's forehead. “Mind if I get water?”

       “Aw-oo-ook!" He leaped back. "This thing ain't got no water. You turn that dang crank, and me brains is falling out.”

      “It's ninety degrees, and every fountain's broken."

      “Sorry. Cain't help. Stingy plumber want two-hundred-dollars to fix me head."


Thursday, April 28, 2011

X Marks the Spot #AtoZ

X marks the spot with a dot and a dot
and a dash and a dash,
and a great big question mark.
With pinches and squeezes and cool summer breezes,
and a knife in your back.
 Blood rushes down
and spirits rising up. 

The letter X (Alias unknown)
How many of you chanted this stupid, sadistic rhyme on your friend's back as a child or had it done to you? Who writes this stuff anyway? It's kinda creepy having someone fist your back and call it a knife. Wouldn't it be better to rake invisible leaves or something? Or how about a good old fashion back rub? If you have to write poetry with the back rub, maybe you could quote Charlie Sheen on your back saying something profound like, "Boom, crush. Night, losers. Winning, duh." Uh, maybe not.

Here is my new and improved version of X Marks the Spot. If you don't like it, WRITE YOUR OWN!

X draws a line
With a vine and a vine
and a great wiggly scratch.
With fingernails while you yak
but don't "cool breeze" slobber on my back! 
With a palm on the shoulder
Not too hard, I'm getting older.
And forget the spirits because that's just plain weird.

If I can write a post for X, I can write anything. See you tomorrow when we explore real life yoyos (That's slang for foolish people). 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wilberfoss #AtoZ

No. My son's name is not really Wilberfoss. At least that's not the name we gave him at birth.

Not his Birth Name/ Not his Actual Photo
It all started when Facebook circulated a "Rate Your Parents" app that was good for a few laughs. By clicking the allow button, Facebook would analyze your name, tally how many folks from the year you were born were given the same name, and give your parents a score (A-F) on how creative they were in the naming process. So Daniel, the child with the eighth most popular name from the year he was born, decided to rate his parents, AKA us.

Next I knew, he participated then sent me a Facebook message, "Mama! You got an F."

I replied, "Studies show that kids with more common names are better accepted in society."

"Studies show you got an F."

Fine. Daniel wants a creative name, I'd find him one. I searched name sites to see what I could discover. Then I added my own unique twist to the name "Wilbur." Viola, Wilberfoss!

"You want a creative name. Okay, son. From now on your name is Wilberfoss."

Daniel, err Wilberfoss, changed his Facebook name and we received an A+! All would be great except Facebook refused to allow him to change his name back to Daniel. So, almost two years later, my son is still named Wilberfoss. Even some of his friends have started to call him by that A+ name.

That should teach him to complain.

Tune in tomorrow for the letter X. Now what am I supposed to do with the letter X?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vic #AtoZ

Vic, my husband's goofy friend, is always good for a laugh (but usually they're of the dirty variety). His  poor wife has been trying to lose 170 pounds for years, but he still hangs around. He'd drive me to drink, but this woman is a saint through all his "take my wife, please take my wife jokes." If she didn't laugh along, she'd probably slug him.

On New Year's Eve, Vic reported that 30% of New Year's Eve accidents involve alcohol. If that's the case, 70% do not involve liquor, so we have a better chance of getting home safely if we drink. Most recently he told my husband that our daughter didn't need to bring her checkbook with her to Prague. After all, there are plenty of Cheks there. Pretty funny, Vic.

The most outrageous Vic-ism happened on his fiftieth birthday party. He had it at McDonalds! Each of us received a Happy Meal complete with a toy of the boy or girl variety. He had balloons, streamers, and even a clown performing magic tricks. Although it's been a few years since his party, I still remember the double takes from those passing by. I could actually read their minds. They'd pass by, spot the balloon, think it was a five at first, then double take when they realized it said, "Fifty." Only Vic!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Uncle Pancreas #AtoZ #atozchallenge

I love teaching gifted kids because they have a sense of humor unlike the kind one would find in children from a regular classroom. Years back, my students wrote and acted in a play that had the adults in the audience rolled over in stitches while most children thought the skit was "stupid." My young Einsteins  obviously hit upon adult humor that was so far over the heads of the normal sixth grade class, that age peers didn't enjoy it. Only one kid in the class found their skit funny. He was the child on my referral list who I placed a few weeks later. Yep! I knew this student was gifted when I saw him chuckling with the adults.

To illustrate some quick wit from gifted students, here is a recap of a scene that took place in one of my classes some time back.

circa 2000: Intellectually Gifted kids provide interesting material. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

     "February means Black History Month, so here's a game of Jeopardy to test your knowledge of famous African Americans." I divided the class into teams. 

     Meredith upped the interesting factor of our game when she said, "Politicians for fifty."

     I flipped the card and read, "This General currently serves as Secretary of State."

     "Who is Collin Powell?"

Call Me Uncle Pancreas!
     "The name is Colin!" Jason snapped.

     "Uh, gross. I don't like names that sound like body parts, so I'm calling him Collin."

     "Really? Why don't you like body part names?" Jason said. "I have an Uncle Pancreas."

Tune in tomorrow for the letter V, which is all about Vic (one of the funniest guys I know).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eat Your Gestapo (Six Sentence Sunday)

As part of Six Sentence Sunday,, I've been challenged to post six lines of writing today. These six lines are from my unpublished novel, Being Bompsy Carleffa. Ben and Fiso, the crime boss father who Ben had just met, have a bit of a communication breakdown at the dinner table. I've edited my work from its original version to fit the six sentence challenge.

            After Gil placed a tomato-base soup in front of each of us, I blew on the spoon and took a sip of cold liquid. All this money, and these people couldn’t heat the food.
            “Do you like the gazpacho?” Fiso asked.
            I dropped my spoon on the table and wondered why he'd mention the Gestapo? What was he, a modern day Nazi? Sick; this guy’s really sick!

Thanks for tuning in. I'll catch you on Monday when I explore the letter U and Uncle Pancreas!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Taunting Siblings #AtoZ

Most people know that the majority of U.S. presidents were first born children, but I bet you didn't know that most comedians were born last. So, since I'm four positions down from the presidency, I guess I'll continue to write my humor blog. Today's post features those taunting siblings that I'm lucky enough to have grown up with.

Sweet, Defenseless, Little Girl 
Being Viciously Attacked by Older Sibling
Being the baby of the family had it's pros and cons. On the bright side, no one made me wear dresses to school everyday while insisting I was too young to shave my legs. Also, I didn't have to beg, pray, or bake a German Chocolate Cake to get my ears pierced. I simply asked once and went to a gynecologist to get it done. You read that right. Twelve year old me sitting among the pregnant women and taking in evil glances from assuming folks. I also got to go to camp, France, and anywhere else I wanted because my sibs had broken in my parents big time.

On the negative side, I wore a powder-blue, polyester gym suit that said, "BEP" on the front because $7.00 was too much to pay for a pretty red one with my own initials. Plus, four positions down the birth order meant I had to search hard to find the one accomplishment that no one had done before. Would you believe I found it in sports? How original! But worst of all, everyone remembers all my little kid embarrassments, but I have nothing on them! Except the ability to report their various abuses.

Don't Look Up, Barb!
 Barb used to pay me 20¢ to go to the A & P store after school everyday. I'd buy one candy bar for her and get whatever I wanted for myself. After five years of that, we both weighed in at a whopping 470 pounds, but boy was that chocolate great! As for taunting me, she wasn't totally innocent either. She once backed me into a corner with a whip she'd won at the carnival. It's okay. After I fetched her a bone in my mouth, she left me alone.

Look at those red tights!
As for Bev, she reads my blog so I shouldn't tell you how she pinched one of my boobs and told me that it would be smaller than the other one. Thanks to Bev, I have to special order all my bras. One side's an A while the other is a Double D. Dang! Dang! Why'd she pinch me? She used to love to push my gullible button too. In fact, she told me she was going to give me a shot and pulled out a bottle of alcohol. That's okay too. I simply fainted and Mom screamed, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO HER?"

Even though these three have sometimes caused me grief, I feel sorry for only children who never learn how to be good fighters. So this one's dedicated to those taunting siblings. How did your sibs torture you?

I'll see you tomorrow when I participate in the Six Sentence Sunday challenge.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Snowdruff #AtoZ #atozchallenge

"Making Snow" By, Erica Lansky
I don't like to poke fun at my students, but one former pupil's antics are just too good not to write about. The young man came charging to the teachers with an excitement in his voice that can only be heard in children. "I can make it snow!" he said.

And snow it did. The boy leaned over the pavement and scratched his head causing multiple flakes to fall onto the ground. After he produced a heavy snow storm, a crowd of children gathered around him to see if they too could make it "snow." But alas, no one else's hair was quite that snowy.

For your video enjoyment, here's a clip from the Breakfast Club. Watch Ally Sheedy make it snow!

Tune in tomorrow for the letter T = "Taunting Siblings."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roommates: The Good, The Bad, and The Funny #AtoZ

When a kid goes off to college for the first time, there's no telling what one will find in a roommate. They could be placed with my first roommate, a junior whose parents couldn't afford to get her a single, so she pretended to live alone by ignoring me, or my daughter's first: Miss I-Know-This-Room-Set-Up-Gives-Me-More-Space-Than-You-But-I-LIKE-IT. This spoiled brat placed her bed in the center of the tiny room and refused to move it until my daughter did the same with her bed, thus blocking all floor space in the room. To get to the other side, you pole vault! By the time they parted, the relationship had escalated to rabid shouting matches.

Then there's the disaster when my poor 19 year-old niece had a bizarre 32 year-old placed in her suite. "Mom" was into everyone's business, except her own.

Out of all my roommates, one of my best and most memorable was Rhonda. You can meet her at and just imagine how much fun we had living together. I already told you about the present I gave her (P post), but I bet most don't know about how she inspired me to write an outstanding paper for my English class.

The teacher had assigned us to complete a "how to" paper where we gave details on how to do something. At first I was torn about what to write, so Rhonda and I brainstormed various "how to" topics. Rhonda came up with the idea of "How to be a slob?"

I said, "Well, Rhonda, you're so good at it, why don't you tell me?"

She said, "I'll do better than that, I'll show you."

Next I knew, Rhonda and I were in each others drawers throwing each others clothing into the air and covering our floor with various objects. A crowd had gathered outside our room staring at "Girls Gone Mad." As we laughed hysterically people asked, "What are they doing?"

Needless to say, I wrote a great paper on "How To Be A Slob." I think I even got an A. Thanks, Rhonda!

Of course one poor sock, never found its mate, so we tacked it to the wall with a wanted poster:

 One Mate
Must be blue, single or unattached.
Holey socks need not apply.

I think it went to its grave without a partner. :(

Please check Rhonda's blog out at She's hysterical! And tune in tomorrow for letter S. You just might learn how to make it snow in warm weather.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Quintessential Husband #AtoZ

 I have a quintessential husband. For those who aren't familiar with the word:

quintessential |ˌkwintəˈsen ch əl|
representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class

That's Mitchell! I married him almost a Quarter of a century ago and along with the man, I've acquired a magic sink. I put dirty dishes in it, and they come out clean. I've found this same magical quality sometimes happens in the laundry room too. The dogs get fed and the trash cans emptied. Not only is this amazing, but it's also making me a lazy wife. 

Not only does he do these mundane chores, but he also pays our bills, taxes, and keeps us all organized about what needs to be accomplished and when. He's better than a date book and an alarm clock! When I need to get up, he sets the alarm and is sure to nudge me if I'm not moving. I'm not even sure how to operate any gadgets around the house or my life, for that matter.

He's cute too. Mitchell gets up early every morning and runs, bikes, swims, or something to maintain his quintessential physique. Plus, he gives a great back rub! I really don't deserve him.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peculiar Presents #AtoZ

The infamous "they" has always stated that it's better to give than to receive. I tend to agree with this because I've often had more fun in the planning and giving of presents than in actually getting them. My daughter Erica has also enjoyed gift giving adventures as demonstrated a few years ago when she and her two buddies gave Ben a gift of 520, er 517 pieces of bubble gum. They purchased a huge tub, opened it, each snatched a piece of gum out of the container, and corrected the amount with a Sharpie pen.

Rhonda's Blog - It's pretty darn funny!
My favorite gift giving experience happened back in college with my former roommate Rhonda author of She had a crush on a ZBT pledge who she had never actually met, and I snatched the opportunity to buy him for her at the fund raising pledge auction. I secured him for the bargain price of $5, placed a bow on top of his head, and sat him on her bed. Then I told Rhonda, "I have a present for you. It's on your bed."
Owner of Brahmas Pro Ice Hockey Team? 
Uh, er, Sorry Sir.

Can you spell a-w-k-w-a-r-d? That it was at first, and she wasn't letting me leave her with this one. So Mr. Cute Slave painted her nails and I can't remember what else. It was the eighties, and we were a lot milder with our slaves back then.

She got over her anger when she formed a friendship with the young man, and he asked her to the ZBT formal, but the slave purchase never went any further than that. I am glad to say that Rhonda has a wonderful husband and is happily blogging from New Zealand.

And once the sun goes down, I'm ready to observe another thing that starts with the letter P- Passover. If you celebrate it, have a good one! 

This was only one of our many college adventures. I'll share another one in a couple of days for the letter R - Roommates; but, between now and then, we have a big, fat Q.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oops! Oliver--The Class Pet #AtoZ

Erica in First Grade (left) & her Best Friend Leah
When my littlest one was in the first grade, she was most honored to be chosen by her teacher to take Oliver the Parakeet home for Spring Vacation. So, we gathered up the little bird, cage and all, and carried him to the most frightening experience of his short life. 

Once we arrived at home, we set his cage on a kitchen counter where he happily chirped while perched on his wooden rod. My son, finding Oliver interesting, opened the cage to pet his furry head while I was engrossed in a phone conversation. Seeing a chance at freedom, Oliver flew out of his prison and lapped the kitchen. 

As the loose bird soared, my children tried to cup him in their hands, but no, children's paws are not good for capturing birds. To trap a bird, it takes a professional; it takes a golden retriever. That's right. Snap! Our dog Swaz thought he was helping by catching little Oliver in his toothy jaws.

I dropped the phone, let out a panic scream, and ascended on the bird-catching furball to pry his thick jaws open. Oliver fell out of the Swaz's dark mouth and landed on the floor. I picked up the slobber-soaked bird and placed his shaking body back in the cage.

Oliver didn't sing anymore. Not his high-pitched flute sounds nor deep-pitched oboe; not country, rock, or rap. He just hugged the wall of the kitchen and shook like a schizo. Every time our dog sniffed or even passed the cage, he squeezed even closer to his corner, shook harder, and his beady bird eyes grew as large as ping pong balls. Okay, they stayed small and beady, but he was scared.

Finally the day came for Erica to bring Oliver back to school and share her journal about Oliver's week. The shocking truth proved a bit of an embarrassment, especially when Oliver mysteriously kicked the bucket over the summer. I think it was heart failure from plaguing nightmares of sharp teeth. RIP, Oliver.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nudity & The Ninth Wonder of My World #AtoZ

Having a title starting with the word "Nudity," I wonder if this little post will gain top hits status. Yeah! Admit it. You clicked on my blog. I'll tell YOU exactly what I told my pediatrician when he asked five-year-old me to take off my clothes: I said, "You're nasty." But that's not exactly what this post is about. Here goes . . .
It's great to be alive; it's even greater to be in Colorado; but it's best to be at Shwayder Camp --"Uncle Max" Frankel

One of my most embarrassing moments occurred at a youth group convention held at Camp Shwayder in Idaho Springs, Colorado. After spending a full summer working that camp, I knew my way around inside and out. So when we got stinky by riding horses, I found myself at the end of an extremely long shower line. I mean I could have climbed to the top of one of those mountains, jumped in a frigid lake, and hiked back before I'd have a turn at getting clean. Not to worry. Remember, I knew the camp inside and out. 

A lone shower stall existed in a meeting room cabin that few people ever entered, so why not? I grabbed my clothes, towel, soap, etc. and snuck into the private shower. This would have been fine had I not been greeted by a cabin full of boys being friendly while I showered, in the nude! Their cabin shared a wall with the meeting room cabin.

"Hello, Joyce!" They all shouted through the walls.

Feeling a bit shocked by the greeting, I didn't worry too much because after all, no one was in my part of the cabin.

"Where are you?"

"Watching you shower."

"Ha. Ha. No, you're not. No one's in this room," so, "Where are you?"

"Look up. There are holes in the wall."

Sure enough, at the top of the shower, several holes punctured the wall. Uh, er, I didn't know about those. Although I couldn't see any eyeballs goggling through, I had to wonder, could they really see me? I sure hoped not. I believe they were just messing with me after seeing me enter the cabin with a towel et al.; however, my friends wouldn't tell what they did or didn't see, so I guess this remains the Ninth Wonder of the World. Feel free to look at my most popular posts if you're curious about the Eighth Wonder of the World.

See you Monday when we explore the letter Ooooooo, which is for Oops and Oliver--the class pet who didn't enjoy his visit at our house.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Moving #AtoZ

You want me to teach where?
As a young teacher, I often traveled to a different school each day, and on some days, I even hit two schools at once. On one such day, the principal told me I had to move everything out of my portable because a teacher from the middle school, across the field, would be using my room. She assigned me to a new room on the far side of the building, and I frantically tore posters off of walls, threw various items into boxes, and hustled to my new room to be sure to have an empty portable for this middle school teacher.

At 11:30, I left the elementary school and walked the field to my middle school assignment. Upon entering the building, my administrator told me that I would be using the portable at the elementary school. In case you didn't catch this, I moved out so that I could move in. If I didn't laugh, I'd cry.

Tune in tomorrow for the letter N. Psst. It's about NUDITY.  =:o

Stalk Hop Friday

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lost in France #AtoZ

As a child, I was fortunate to attend thirteen years at one of the best public school districts in the country--Clayton in St. Louis, Missouri. This city of predominately wealthy retirees allowed us few young folks to bask in the privileges of their high tax dollars. The school supplied us with pencils and art supplies, we received free swimming lessons at the high school natatorium, and had the opportunity to go on amazing field trips.

When I was in the eighth grade, I took a field trip to Paris, France for a week with seven other students and my poor French teacher. This was one of the most amazing experiences of my childhood, but unfortunately, the last time Ms. Silberg took a class out of the country.

The nightmare began at Notre Dame Cathedral shortly before Easter. My friend Judy picked up a spray of holy leaves that she carried through the paved area in front of the church. A stranger stopped us to ask Judy where she'd gotten her holy weeds. Having only studied French for a year and a half, it took us awhile to translate what exactly the gentleman was saying and figure out how to answer him. By the time we finished talking to the stranger, something one should never do, the class had disappeared. 

We wandered throughout the grounds of Notre Dame looking for our teacher and classmates, but no luck. Not to worry. Knowing we were smart, fearless kids, we'd just jump on the subway and get off at our stop, Bastille. Unfortunately, we did not know that there were two Bastille stops, and of course, we jumped train at the wrong one. So, we were forced to wander the subways shouting, "Parlez vous Anglais?" to any passing stranger.
One woman stopped to tell us, "Yes. I speak English," but she looked totally frazzled when we spat out our predicament in a language that she just thought she spoke. This was surprising because it seemed like many of the French speak English. For example, at another part of the trip, we tried to get off at our subway stop but found ourselves blocked by a rather large passenger. 

We said, "Excuse-moi! Pardon!" but the woman wouldn't budge until Laura said, "Move it, lady!" See! An English speaker.

Anyway, we wandered the Paris subways for two hours and amazingly found our way back with the help of a woman from North Carolina who spoke both languages. By the time we reached our dorm, the teacher's hair shot out in every direction, her nails were chewed off, and she didn't know whether to hug us or slap us. Sorry Miss Silberg!
Oh mon Dieu! by E. Lansky

Tune in tomorrow when I tackle the letter M and my amazingly ridiculous moving situation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ms. Kirk & Other Old Teachers #AtoZ

Gum Chewers Beware!
It's amazing and even frightening how little events from my school days have become ingrained in my memories. I'm referring to my middle school librarian who would go on a rampage to seek out those bad boy gum chewers in the library. Yes, they were a naughty crew. Ms. Lizzie Kirk, who stood eye level to us, would make sniffing sounds around the tables before announcing, "Aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiii smmmmmmell Juicy Fruit!" Some thirty-five years later, I can still laugh at her sing song shout, and be glad I wasn't chomping the sticky substance.

Or perhaps I'm forever taunted by the memory of my fourth grade teacher sliding one penny-loafer-covered foot up and down her leg as she glared at students heading into class. She reminded me of a bull preparing to charge, and attack she did if anyone stepped out of line. I did my best to behave; but still, she hated me. My next door neighbor swore the woman was an antisemitic person. I doubt it. The person part that is. I think I saw her photo on the screen of the Men In Black Headquarters.

Heavy Evie, Miss Bull Charger's girlfriend and my horrid sixth grade teacher, gave me nightmares for years. She'd often rattle the windows of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms whenever she'd burst into her screaming fits. She yelled at Ruthie and insisted that her name was "Ruth" and put Paul in a refrigerator box. I'd be fired if I did half of what she got away with, but times were different. In my days, people didn't question teachers and kids getting in trouble at school meant more problems for them at home.

Despite the few toads, not all my teacher memories are negative. I thoroughly loved Miss Silberg, my middle school French teacher. She had a fun personality and was always sure to give us a laugh in class. Although she was one of my favorite teachers, I inadvertently gave the poor woman heart failure. Tune in tomorrow, and I'll tell you all about it in my L post.

Skipping ahead, I loved Walter Johnson, who taught Econ 51 at the University of Missouri. He kept us laughing whether it was by throwing chalk at a sleeping student or stripping on stage. Fun and goofy, those are the teachers I loved.

Which brings me to the question of what, if any, life long memories have I given to my students? I'll never forget the eighth grader who told me how she was heartbroken for not getting a sticker one day when she was in the first grade. I couldn't remember what she had done not to earn it and felt horrible in knowing this memory still plagued her. So I gave the teen a sticker and prayed she could move on. I hope my students' memories are good. Maybe I gave them a laugh or made them cry. Like my teachers of the past, I will probably never know what lasting impressions I've left on them. I can only hope they are positive.

Happy Birthday, Mitchell!

Today is my husband's birthday. He says he's 48, but I know better. I mean if you're going to lie about your age, you need to make it a good one: like 34 or 29. I like to lie upwards. After all, I bet I look great for 74! Anyway, happy birthday, Mitchell. He has been a wonderful husband of almost 25 years, and he's not sick of me yet. Amazing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jayhawks - :p #AtoZ

The Fruity Bird
I started my hate affair with those nasty Jayhawks while attending the University of Missouri, and it only grew more intense in 2008 when Kansas beat the University of Memphis Tigers in the National Championship in overtime. To make matters worse, an annoying fan over did it with extreme obnoxiousness after that game. If I didn't despise them before, I totally do now.

But other than that, what is that thing they call a mascot? Since when is a cartoon character the spiritual leader of a team? Oooowh, scawry biwrd with its fwruity wred and blwue featherws. I can just see it pecking at a tiger or stomping on a bear. I like to tease my daughter about her terrapin mascot, Maryland's "Fear the Turtle," but at least Testudo looks fierce. Big Jay belongs on Sesame Street with the other Big Bird. And just like the eight foot Big Bird, who also has an identity crisis, in the animal kingdom, Jayhawks don't exist. It's made of a cross between a blue jay and a sparrow hawk. The former is loud while the other is quiet, which means Big Jay is schizo. Do Jayhawks hear voices in their tiny heads? I don't even want to know.

Unless you are a Kansas fan, I'll see you tomorrow when I tackle the letter K . . . and it won't be about Kansas. :p

Monday, April 11, 2011

Idiot Drivers #AtoZ

You've seen the usuals--Miss Mascara-Lady brushing her lashes at the green light or Mr. Beer Guzzler weaving in and out of his lane. But one of the worst drivers I ever met was Mr. I'm-Not-Going-to-Drive-Fast-But-You-Can't-Pass-Me-Either. Have you met him? He was eighty years old and wanted to make sure I drove at a safe speed. Flying down the highway's passing lane at a whopping 40 mph, he made his Chevy rattle. As soon as an opportunity opened to pass on the right, Mr. Annoying floored it. I mean this dude drove a number that matched his age, and there was no passing him. Then, as soon as traffic clogged the right, he slowed back to forty. Was this guy for real? Lucky for him, I'm not a lulu with a gun because a Road Rager would have blasted his little gray head.

Unfortunately, he's not the only idiot driver on the road. After circling a parking lot twice, I finally found a person ready to leave. So I put my blinker on and waited a good distance back to allow the driver room to back up. Miss Rude Idiot had already driven way past this spot and missed it. Tough luck; get over it! But nooo. After seeing my signal, she put her car in reverse and blocked the person trying to back out of MY spot. Oh yes she did. And she was determined not to move until I backed up and gave her MY spot. If it weren't for the person being held captive in the lot, I would have stayed all night, but I couldn't do that to him. I'm sure she caused road rage and got hers eventually.

Years ago, I decided to do my best to control my blood pressure when idiot drivers are near. Okay, not totally. I still get frustrated when I can't turn right on red . . . not because of a sign, but due to the idiot driver who's blocking my lane. But when push comes to shove, pun intended, will this person's actions matter tomorrow? Should I really allow them that much control over my emotions? Of course not! I should just throw a rock at their car and drive off. --Just kidding.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Historical Humor #AtoZ

It's a rare clip that is so funny that no matter how many times I watch it, I still laugh. I'm talking about Abbott and Costello's famous skit, "Who's on First?" This hilarious duo worked radio, television, and film for ten years starting in 1942. Since then, many other comedians have graced the stages but so many of them depend on raw, dirty humor to get a laugh. Not these two. They didn't need to spew the F word in every other line to be funny. Check this out:

Another funny man from the past was Buster Keaton who made his start in 1899 at age three. He was born into a Vaudeville family and performed a comedy skit with his parents. The stone faced youth would anger his dad who grabbed a hook on his back and threw him across the stage. This violent act led to accusations of child abuse, but Buster, who Harry Houdini nick-named after a fall down a flight of stairs at age eighteen months, insisted he was fine. In fact, Buster Keaton became a pro at physical humor. Watch this:

Finally, my blog wouldn't be complete without honoring at least one funny gal from history. Lucille Ball was great and could be a post all by herself, but I'd like to honor the late, great Gilda Radner. I especially loved her skits as Roseanna Roseanna Dana on Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately I couldn't find my favorite, The U.S. Wants to Make Puerto Rico a Steak," but here's one that I'm sure you'll enjoy.

So is it cheating for a humor blogger to give you a laugh from the great ones? Nah! We learn from the best. See you Monday, which will be brought to you by the letter I.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Games #AtoZ

I don't like games. Sure, deal me in after shuffling the cards or let me bankrupt you with hotel traps in Monopoly, these are not the games I'm referring too. I'm talking about those sickly, conniving tricks we humans play with each other for fun or personal gain. I like Billy Bob but instead of telling him, I'm going to flirt with Hugo and make him jealous. These are the games I despise.

Having never been a game player, I became victim to some of the worst mind muses during my young dating life--all without my knowledge. So Senior year of college when that Freshman boyfriend wanted to see if he could rekindle the old flame, I was ready with the coaching of a dear friend. 

When the ex called, my friend interrupted my conversation and said, "Tell him you got to go." I gave Barry an odd look, but he insisted, "You have to go." So I abruptly ended the conversation and felt the pull from the other end of the phone telling me that he still wanted to talk.

Next, Barry prepped me for the date. When we'd get to the restaurant, I was to tell my date that I'd promised to drive my roommate to Walgreens at three. I hadn't promised anything, but my friend told me that if I wanted this guy, I had to give him the idea that he's not the most important thing in my life. It sounded cheap, felt wrong, and when it came down to it, I decided this wasn't me and I wasn't playing the game. Although I chose not to drop my break away excuse, I knew exactly what was going on when he told me, "My old roommate is coming to the apartment to help me move at three." I also realized at that point, that this was not the guy for me. Being sure not to mess up his plans, I scooted out by three, even though my date insisted I didn't have to go. It wasn't a game. I really didn't want to be around someone who didn't treat me like I was important.

Now as a humor blogger, my post would not be complete without the comical end of game playing, so here goes more game stories that happened during those fun college years.

A friend of mine and I decided we weren't going to play the sly check out the new date routine by hiding behind the pole and taking casual glances. We played openly and honestly. Dressed in a trench coat, hat, and sunglasses, we carried our notepad and pen down to the lobby for pickup. We asked the poor victim to turn around while telling him the absolute truth. "I want to check out your butt before I'll let you date my friend." Next, we'd ask him multiple questions about what his intentions were with our friends. No lies or deceptions here!

Nor did I go along with the nasty boys of Zeta Beta Tau during their Little Sister Initiation. Lined up in front of the entire fraternity, they gave each girl a banana with whipped cream on top and asked us to show them what we'd do with it. I promptly chomped down on the piece of fruit and tore the top off. I don't like games.

Please tune in tomorrow when letter H will take us on a fun look at Historical Humor.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tina Fartingle - Tooth Fairy Extraordinaire #AtoZ

Our family tends to go by the old adage, "Once you know the secret, you become a part of the game." This is how it went once my oldest kids discovered the tooth fairy myth with baby sister who would often leave notes under the pillow for the money delivering tooth fairy. This wouldn't have been so bad had they not decided to answer the notes and name the tooth fairy.

Artwork by Erica L. Lansky
Being the kids that they once were, these two clowns named her Tina Fartingle. Miss Fartingle made many visits to Erica and left notes, money, and even toys under her pillow. Come fourth grade, Erica was starting to doubt the existence of the tooth fairy but had her beliefs renewed when a friend in her class had the same tooth fairy with the same obscene name.

It all happened when another mother of a child in the class, happened to call me wanting to know the tooth fairy's name. To make matters worse, I taught her gifted child in my special class. I hemmed and hawed and finally blurted out, "Fartingle! But I didn't come up with that."

Needless to say, Emily's tooth fairy was also named Tina Fartingle which made the girls sure that she must exist. Smart little Erica continued the charade for many years after that. Why not? Even if you were fixing to shave, would you admit non-belief in something that brings money under the pillow?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Empty Nest #AtoZ

Today, April 6, means it's been 23 years since I gave birth to our first child--and to think, I was only six at the time. My husband and I have vivid memories of bringing that sleeping baby boy home from the hospital, setting his car seat on a table, looking at each other and saying, "What the heck are we supposed to do with it?"
Happy Birthday, Danielson! 

We figured out what to do after dipping the poor kid in cold bathwater and sticking the snot snatcher up the baby's nose then squeezing. It's okay, the son is no longer cross-eyed and eventually we figured out how to suck his buggers out. In fact, we did such a good job at this that when Daniel woke after surgery from a soccer injury, he even asked me to pick his nose.

Judy Woo
Soon we added two female bundles of job (yes it's a typo, but I thought it was fitting) to the mix to create a full house of, "Mmmoooooommm! She looked at meeeeeeee!" Ah the pleasures of raising children! And of course big brother became a master at egging the little two into a fight then stepping back to watch.

Erica - Baby Bear
Yes, we've had many wonderful years of joy and vomit, but those days are quickly coming to an end for the youngest of the crew is now a Senior in High School. She has chosen to attend the furthest school possible, Zhejiang University in China. Just kidding, but she is going to UCF in Orlando, which is quite a jog from little Memphis.

Seriously, we will miss our baby as we do the older two, and once again my husband and I will look at each other and say, "What are we supposed to do now?"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for DOGS -What else? #AtoZ

Being that I have multiple dogs sniffing all over my site, I had to take advantage of the D day. Let me introduce you to the crew.

The Swaz
Alpha Dog is The Swaz. He's an old, white-faced retriever who likes to spread his enormous body across the entry ways of dark rooms. I've almost ended my life by tripping over him quite a few times. Swaz has never been what one would call an active dog. When I throw the ball, he knows I'm not going anywhere, so what's the rush to get it back? He'll simply stroll to the ball, place it in his enormous jaws, and eventually I may see it again. He's a love but at 12½, I worry about him.

Millie & Erica
Millie the Rescue Dog: She's a Terrier Mix who probably hasn't seen a pedigree in the family for many years. Her tongue is too big for the mouth, so it sticks out but dries quickly. She hops into bed between my husband and me every night and makes odd groaning noises. My kids enjoy her squeaky toy gadget. Touch her belly and she grunts.

Goofy Ruby
Ruby the goofy grand dog: No longer my problem! I say that because the son took her back to Charleston after she chewed up every pair of my daughter's underwear. When we go to see her, she lets us know she still loves us by peeing on the floor or taking a flying leap to give us a sloppy kiss. She's a Dino dog (Flintstones) for sure.

I do not know the cute puppies on my site; however, if Erica has her way, we just might. Catch my words tomorrow when I explore the Empty Nest with Letter E.

Monday, April 4, 2011

That Closet Did It to My Clothes Again! #AtoZ

Back in the good old days, Mom would wash our clothes and hang them outside on a laundry line stretched between the house and a tree. Not only would our duds come back smelling fresh, but also they stayed the same size. Never did I have the experience like one has with dryers. You know it. You stick your shirt in the dryer and in the morning you have new Barbie clothes.

Which brings me to my latest problem--my closet.

We live in the south where when the temperatures break into three digits, the horses sweat, men perspire, and I glow. So living in such a hot and humid climate, why did our builder leave out an air conditioning vent in the closet? My closet has gotten so hot that every summer I go to pull out clothes, and dag-gummit, they've shrunk. It's a definite dryer effect. Why just the other day, those jeans wouldn't zip! And what's worse, the longer the clothes stay in the closet, the smaller they get.

 Now comes the problem of what to do with the shrunken clothes. At first I didn't have a clue, but after going to The Memphis Grizzlies game, I've figured it out. Those poor Grizzly Dancers wiggled on the basketball court in their underwear. Then they switched out of their underwear into some stretchy outfit that must have shrunk too because their butt cheeks were hanging out of the back. I think I'll send my little clothes to those poor naked dancers, then I'm going to call my builder and ask him to install a vent. This clothes shrinking business has got to stop.

See you tomorrow when I tackle the letter D. If you look around my blog, I bet you can figure out what this one's about.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Basement Phobia

So Fun!
It was the place where yellowed stuffing spilled from tattered couches and humming heaters sang mournful duets with spinning dryers. I'm referring to that musty, spider-infested basement. That place I crept into only when forced to retrieve Mystery Date. All that bravery just to end up with the Dud at the door. After all, if I was going to risk my life to get that game, at least I could've found the stud muffin in the white tux.

That light bulb dangling from a cord was never enough to give me the peace of mind to be way downstairs--at least not alone. What was it about the basement that would scare the Buggy Man, Phantom of the Opera, or even the millions of famous dead people who we've ooed and awed over throughout history? Tackle the basement, suckers!

The shadows reflecting from the dull light gave me the tingling feeling that something eight-legged or the Mystery Date Dud was crawling on my forearm. While downstairs, I'd often hop into a hula hoop spin without the plastic because, I'd felt something creepy.

And the noise of the heater with the glowing orange light added to the drama. I'm with you Kevin, my Home Alone heater came to life when doing laundry too. In real life, we don't need  Hollywood scare music to add to the tension. Haunted houses on Halloween, nah, just find the basement.

Now that I'm a grown up, I live in a state so humid that the ground would swallow those dirt dwelling rooms. Not many basements in Memphis--only attics. Yikes! That's another post.

I'm leaving you with a fun link for those too young to remember Mystery Date or old enough to enjoy a nostalgic look back to the fun we used to have. Tune in Monday, and I'll tell you all about my closet.

Please click the Picket Fence. Thanks!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Agent Harold Baer is Looking for Writers!

As aspiring authors, it's exciting to learn about new agents who are actually looking for clients! I was blessed to interview Mr. Harold Lyon Baer about his unique practices that are sure to escalate him to the top of the publishing world.

Joyce: It's always interesting to know what people do before becoming agents. I mean, have you always been a part of the book world?

Harry: When I was young, I traveled a lot. In fact, I was part of an expedition in the Arctic Circle. During that time period, we did a lot of hunting and ice fishing.

Joyce: Really? That's fascinating. So tell me Harry, what sort of books are you interested in?

Harry: I love books about animals! I especially love the Berenstain Bears.

Joyce: Well, who doesn't? So you're interested in picture books?

Harry: Picture Books, Middle Grade, YA--anything will float with me. Listen, Joyce. I need to cut this interview short. My wife's calling. You know, the cubs are getting restless. But please have your readers call me if they'd like to give me a pitch about their books.

Joyce: Wait a minute? No query letter? Just a phone call?

Harry: Sure. I like to get to know potential clients. If they turn out to be like honey, we just might gel.

Joyce: You sure are a rare species, Harry!

Harry: That's what they keep telling me. Please tell your readers that I'm located at:

64th Street and Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10021

Come visit or call (212) 439-6500 and ask for Harry Baer. Also, if anyone is interested in knowing more about me, here's my website:

Thanks, Harry!

A is for Agent! Tune in tomorrow to read about letter B -- Hmm? Beer, Barbecues, Babies -- Are you curious enough to click?