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Monday, November 7, 2011

#GBE2: Nature vs. Nurture

The question, "Which is more important Nature or Nurture?," is up there with,"Which came first the chicken or the egg?" Both answers are hard to crack. When given this GBE 2 topic, I thought of Trading Places, a movie in which the Duke brothers bet $1 to see which mattered most: nature or nurture. Nurture won out, but the movie is fiction.

Goofy kids in bubble bath, circa 1995
Our three children have three distinct personalities. Just look at the photo and how each wore the bubbles in a different way. These babies born into the same environment were different from the start and still are... but maybe the environment wasn't truly the same? After all, we were calmer, more relaxed parents with the third born.

I've also heard that kids teach their parents how they should be treated by their nature. For example, a parent will interact differently with a wild child than a quiet one. So maybe nature beats nurture?

If nature wins, I still don't buy into crap about an inferior race. As a teacher, I've seen kids of all races, creeds, and colors in my intellectually gifted classes. I once taught an African American eight year old, who would read the Wall Street Journal when finished with his work. If you, the adult, didn't understand what he read, he'd explain it to you.

No race is inferior to another, although I can't say the same about parents. One of the hottest current videos on YouTube is that of a Texas judge whipping and cussing at his sixteen year old daughter for downloading music from the Internet. Really, moron? With a beating like that, one would think she made an assassination attempt on the president.

Unfortunately, physically and/or emotionally abusive parents are not the only inferior ones out there. Some well meaning adults hover over their darlings to the point of crippling their ability to think for themselves. So although nature has a strong hand in who we become, we can't ignore nurture.

Amazingly, many kids from horrid homes rise above abuse, neglect, and over-protectiveness to excel; while a kid from a great environment, swallowed mushrooms and drove his car through a house… then miraculously walked away unscathed.

To work a prestigious job, one must earn a college degree; however, the most important occupation in the world–parenting–requires no education at all. Why is that?

I leave you with the trailer from Trading Places, just in case you've never seen this wonderful movie.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Writer's Post: Desire

desire♥  |dəˈzī(ə)r| - noun
a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen

Well, ye-ah! I want it so badly I started this blog. I'm talking about that editor induced book contract.

Hello Mrs. Lansky. As your agent, I called to tell you that five houses loved your manuscript. One woman said, "It made her giggle like a little girl." 

Another stated, "Lansky is a genius, and I must acquire her work." In fact, they are fighting for your manuscript at auction.

Mark Twain -AF Bradley's photo
I wish! I mean seriously. Besides a tomb stone, what do these guys got that I ain't got?

When to get published?That is the question.  
I have five children's novels available for publication; and they are all funny! Four have that much desired boy protagonist. 

Take your pick: 

THE FRIENDSHIP PUZZLE - girl trauma at it's worst. Okay. As my first book, it probably sucks, but surely I could raise it to a higher standard.

DON'T EAT CHIPMUNKS - My thirteen-year-old narrator yearns for his summer adventure in the Colorado Rockies with his Jewish camp group. He soon finds himself struggling for survival, when he gets lost in the mountains with his favorite counselor and two worst enemies. I admit, Remi's a jerk at first, but he learns how to get along with others by the end. Isn't character growth important?

BEING BOMPSY CARLEFFA and THE KILLER WHO LOVED ME -  Fifteen-year-old Ben lives with his mother in a crappy apartment and believes a lie about a father who died twelve years earlier. Life is sweet until a sleazy mobster kidnaps him, shows him that his entire life has been bullsh*t, and screws up his world—forever.

Of course it wouldn't be my book if Ben didn't have a sense of humor. One rejection letter said, "He's too funny for such a serious situation." Too bad professionals are turned off when one writes about one's friend who couldn't go to sleep because she was unable to put down the manuscript. --Yep, it's true, but I can't say that in a query letter. :(

MRS. ZIMMERMAN'S DONUTS - the coming of age story of ten year old Knob and his goofy friend. I recently blogged about it. 

These stories have voice too. I know because folks tell me so in every rejection letter. Hellooooo. Agent, where are you? You are desired

Sunday, October 30, 2011

#GBE2: Popularity

When it comes to popularity, I win hands down… with my dogs. People are not so easy. 'How to be popular?' has been the age old question: What makes some people disgustingly popular while others aren't?

My daughter on Halloween as Regina George
One could say people are popular because they are nice, but let's face it. Everyone knows a viciously mean person who is or was ultra popular.

I believe popularity comes from self-confidence and starts at a young age. On a field trip to the fire station, a fireman told the Kindergarten class to sit on the ground. While most kids lined up in a row, one little guy sat by himself several feet behind his classmates. Slowly little bodies slid back until the lone boy was surrounded by kids. --Okay, I confess: he was mine and has remained popular to this day.

I was never my son. It takes a lot of courage to sit by yourself as a young child and not worry whether or not folks will join you. I always wanted to be a part of the crowd in elementary school, but didn't have the confidence to be my own person.

Later in Junior High School when popularity meant following the crowd, I wore shoes that looked like they belonged to a bowler. Kids made fun of me for my shoes, but I liked them! I enjoyed rebelling against my peers while everyone else wanted to tackle teachers and parents. Not me! Interesting enough, no one joined me in my pride in being different.

A lot of us writer types may have been weird kids; but, if we were the exceptionally popular folks, we'd have nothing to write about, would we?

I leave you now with a clip from one of my favorite movies: Mean Girls.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Silly Sunday: Repairs

After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. Mechanics correct problems and document repairs on form.

Here are maintenance complaints submitted by UPS ' pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S). 

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.


P: Something loose in cockpit

S: Something tightened in cockpit


P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back-order.


P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.


P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.


P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.


P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you're right.


P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search


P: Aircraft handles funny. 

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.


P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.


P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed.


P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

S: Took hammer away from midget

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Writer's Post: Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Once upon a Halloween, I was a kid who didn't need parents to escort me from door to door, nor did I wear expensive store-bought costumes. After someone brought me a poncho from Mexico, I was a Mexican Hat Dancer for three years. Of course being a hat dancer meant planning a routine because someone would always ask me for a trick. 

Get it? "Trick or Treat." In the St. Louis of the 1960s that expression meant exactly what it said. Kids rang the doorbell, said "Trick or Treat," and gave the homeowner a choice: Give candy immediately or ask for a trick. As a Mexican Hat Dancer, I did a dance. In other years, I wandered the neighborhood with a joke to tell. 

When I mention this tradition around Memphis, people look at me cross-eyed. That's not the only Halloween culture clash from moving 300 miles south. The first time my husband left to take our son trick-or-treating, he came home and asked, "Did you give out a candy?"
My kids: Halloween 1995

I said, "Sure. I gave out lots of candy. One to this kid, another to that."

He said, "But did you give out a candy?"

I hadn't a clue that he was trying to find out whether or not we had candy left. Go figure. We've yet to give out a candy, except for the year that the neighbors threw a huge party with gazillion kids, but didn't tell anyone they were coming.

Another Halloween memory of mine was Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts. Every year, David's mom made homemade donuts that she'd give to all the children. I never ate one. 

Kids can be quite literal, and that I was when Mom always said, "Never eat anything unwrapped." So year after year I'd skip those sweet smelling snacks that all the kids would go out of their way for. If I could go back in time, I'd eat one of her donuts on Halloween; but, it's not all bad. The memory of skipping donuts inspired my latest novel. I wonder if this manuscript would even exist if I'd eaten a donut. I also wonder if her son, who grew up to be a chef, bakes these donuts on Halloween. If he does, I just might have to go to St. Louis and ring his bell.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hypnotist

At the University of Central Florida, these young women were hypnotized. They think they're in love with the wall. Teehee!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#GBE2: Ownership

This week's GBE2 topic is ownership which is perfect for me because I just got my Mother's Day gift last week. I dumped my dumb phone for a smart one.

Not Your Grandma's Phone
Here's the screen of my phone. Aren't my fall background leaves pretty? Notice the 41 unread email messages? I can't fix that problem because as soon as I delete them fifty more old emails pop up as unread. I had over 5,000 messages on my computer. Now I'm down to, 3,289. That's progress!

As I'm learning, there's a lot involved in working a smart phone. In fact, last Saturday I attended a "How to Use Your iPhone 4" class at the Verizon store. Sorry but, no S in my phone. The S dials numbers through voice commands; so in other words, when one says to a friend, "I call my boss Butterball when he's not around," suddenly Mr. Butterball is on your cell listening to you trash him because you said, "call my boss."

Pretty Duct Tape
Anyway, when I drove up for class, "Smart Phones for Dummies,"us old ladies waited in the parking lot for the kids to teach us how to use the almost latest technology. One woman shared her experiences with her first phone. She did everything she was told to do, but the phone still wouldn't work. Finally she learned she had to push a button called "Send."

I'm a step ahead of her because I know how to hit the send button. Not only that, but I can turn my phone on, off, mute it, answer incoming calls, and even take pictures. After my class, I took a picture of duct tape at Target and sent it to my daughter to see if she wanted any. She never responded, so her loss. Unless of course she reads her mom's blog.
Cool Camera
I took a photo of my husband at The Olive Garden the other night. It was one of those last minute dinners empty nesters do after the kids move out. Not sure that he knew this one was coming. The photos are much clearer than the ones I used to take on my dumb phone.

I can pull up the internet but can't see anything on the small screen without my reading glasses. As for Facebook, it won't accept my password when I try to sign on. I guess I won't be wasting time away from home.

I even used the cool technology to "face time" with my daughter in Maryland. For those of you who are technologically challenged (like I was last week), that means we spoke through picture phones. How cool is that? You want to be impressed? If it works, I'll be shocked too.  Listen to this! 

Next I know, I'll be telling the phone to beam me up! Isn't ownership of cool technology grand?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Silly Sunday: Ralph and Edna

Another Sunday means it's time to join Rhonda's weekly hop at Laugh Quotes.

Ralph and Edna were both patients in a mental hospital. One day while walking past the hospital swimming pool, Ralph jumped into the deep end.

He sank to the bottom of the pool and stayed there.

Edna promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled him out. When the Head Nurse Director became aware of Edna's heroic act, she  ordered her to be discharged from the hospital, as she now considered her to be mentally stable.

When she told Edna the news she said, "Edna, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you're being discharged, since you were able to rationally respond to a crisis by jumping in and saving the life of the person you love... I have concluded that your act displays sound mindedness.

The bad news is, Ralph hung himself in the bathroom with his bathrobe belt right after you saved him. I am so sorry, but he's dead."

Edna replied, "He didn't hang himself, I put him there to dry.. How soon can I go home?" 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writer's Post on Movies: Rat Race

This week's challenge is to blog about a favorite movie. When it comes to comedy, there is none funnier than Rat Race. This 2001 film contains an all star cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates, Cuba Gooding Jr., Breckin Meyer, Amy Smart, Paul Rodriguez and several other big names. If you don't see a familiar face in Rat Race, you don't watch movies.

Although Rat Race is a remake of the 1963 movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, it's even funnier than the original. Multi-millionaire Donald Sinclair (John Cleese) chooses winners from a Vegas slot machine to compete in a race across Nevada to a locker containing a bag with $2,000,000.

Each character has his or her own comedy story which adds to the humor. Here is a clip of Mr. and Mrs. Pear (Jon Lovitz and Kathy Najimy) and kids when they stop at the Barbie museum.

Here's another clip of two brothers Duane Cody (Seth Green) and Blaine Cody (Vince Vieluf) as they find themselves in a bit of trouble on the road. Hysterical but still not their funniest scene in this movie.

And finally, let me share one more short scene with Enrico Pollini (Rowen Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame).

 If you haven't seen Rat Race, go rent it! I dare you not to laugh out loud. You may join the hop by going to

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit captured at age 19
Although I'm a humor blogger, every now and then, news happens and I'm compelled to voice my opinion about it.

Gilad Shalit today
With the recent release of Gilad Shalit, Israel has once again shown that she is unlike any country in the world. In case you missed it, this Israeli soldier had been held prisoner by the Palestinians for five years. Yesterday he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Several of these prisoners were terrorists who had made threats, carried out vicious attacks, or even murdered Israeli citizens. Israel swapped 1,027 prisoners for one, and the citizens of Israel were mostly in favor of the exchange.

Free Gilad Shalit open air concert

This is not the first time Israel has done this.  Over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others.1

Many folks are probably asking the obvious question, "Why exchange one soldier for a thousand criminals?" If that one soldier were your son, wouldn't you do anything to get him back? That is the attitude of Israel. Every life is important and the country will do whatever it takes to get its soldiers home safely. As a result, Israel has one of the most loyal armies in the world. Those soldiers take risks because they love their country and know that the country loves them.

Let's contrast this with the mentality of Hamas who encourages their young to strap suicide belts around their wastes and kill innocent civilians. How can Israel make peace with people who hate them more than they love their own children?  

1 Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Pumpkins

As you shop for your pumpkin, follow my plan… if you dare. Last year, I bought a huge pumpkin at the Farmer's Market for $2. The trick: I waited until Halloween day. The farmers didn't want to lug pumpkins back to Arkansas, so they were practically giving them away. With kids in college, it wouldn't be a tragedy to be stuck without one; however, I found an abundance of quality pumpkins at giveaway prices.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#GBE2: Safe Haven

When I was a little girl, my friends and I would often build mini safe havens in the den. We'd place chairs, TV trays, ottomans or anything else we could find at odd angles and then cover them with blankets to make a mini burrow that we'd crawl through. Next, feeling as if we were in our own private place, we'd play inside the blanketed house. It was great as long as no one farted. ;-)

Safe Haven? Yeah, right!
I don't remember my kids doing this (I'm talking about building tent houses, not farting). In fact, the only time I'd ever seen a blanketed safe haven, other than mine, was in the movie Sixth Sense when Haley Joel Osment tried to escape his ghostly visitors. Ironically, he never felt as safe in his safe haven as we did in ours. Maybe ghosts had filled our blanketed hutch too, but would this be a bad thing? After all, without a body, one cannot pass gas. I would think it would be a blessing to be with ghosts and here's a second reason why.

Friday night, my husband and I enjoyed a community dinner in a sukkah. The story behind the sukkah is that anyone from the past is invited to join us there. With the rabbi's nudging, several guests mentioned who they'd like to invite to dinner. First I wanted to invite my parents, but I also would have enjoyed dinner with Gilda Radner in her Roseanna Roseanna Dana get up. I always liked comical ghosts instead of spooky ones. My parents were also quite funny, so they would have fit right in with Gilda in this sukkah safe haven complete with ghosts. What could be safer than a homemade structure with lost loved ones?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Silly Sunday: Sooty

The truth is stranger than fiction. Check out this newspaper article. Also this can be found on The Telegraph (UK News) and the BBC.

Guinea pig harem says 'hello Sooty' 

A GUINEA pig called Sooty had a night to remember after escaping from his pen and tunnelling into a cage of 24 females.

He romanced each of them in turn and was yesterday the proud father of 43 offspring. Staff at Little Friend's Farm in Pontypridd, South Wales, have now secured Sooty's pen - and begun looking for homes for the guinea pigs. Owner Carol Feehan, 42, said: "I'm sure a lot of men will be looking at Sooty with envy.

"We knew that he had gone missing after wriggling through the bars of his cage. We looked for him everywhere but never thought of checking the pen where we keep 24 females. We did a head count and found 25 guinea pigs - Sooty was fast asleep in the corner. He was absolutely shattered. We put him back in his cage and he slept for two days."

Meet the kids from Sooty's two nights of passion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writer's Post: Atmosphere

This week's Writer's Post topic is "Atmosphere." 
Well, okay.

Do you know where this is?

I remember the first time I heard the words, "Information Super Highway." I tried to picture a road of electricity zipping through a black void. As the eighties buzzed with talk of a future with information instantly flashing across the globe, my double-fisted-sized brain couldn't comprehend exactly what this invention meant. After all, who knew our
technological world would mean sending a laugh to folks on the other side of the planet? How could I have ever met a person from England, Germany, or keep up with my friend in New Zealand on a teacher's salary? Oh, I forgot. Our being over paid has caused the world's economic problems.

I always loved a good sci-fi movie or flipping on Lost in Space--the best choice out of our five TV stations. Looking back, Will Robinson's robot was as sophisticated as a box of Tinker Toys; on a scale of one to ten, Captain Kirk's uniform is right up their with the coolness of the Village People; and the scenes from Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) look fake. Don't laugh, it wasn't a comedy.

Future generations will look back and think how primitive we were back in 2011… or maybe not, since the world is gonna end in 2012…unless…of course, the cartoon below is true.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#GBE2: Please Send Some Clarity

Mick Jagger
Don Knotts

Is it me or do these two celebrities really look alike? I've always seen a resemblance between Mick Jagger and Don Knotts. Now for a good laugh, picture Don Knotts on stage dancing in rock and roll glitter… or Mick Jagger playing Barney Fife or the dentist in The Shakiest Gun in the West.

Now that would be funny.
Above is one of my favorite movie scenes. Don Knotts attempts to become a dentist, but this patient gives him trouble.

Mick Jagger's singing is phenomenal, but every time he moves those big lips, I think, Don Knotts. Just ignore the hair, cool threads, and confident swagger while focusing on his face. Then picture Barney Fife ripping off his deputy shirt and tossing it across the police station. Do you see the resemblance? Clarity.

Here's a pair I often confuse. Do you? How about some clarity here?
Jeff Bridges
Nick Nolte

I guess all these white guys look alike. Is it clear who is who or do you ever watch a movie and ask yourself, Is that Jeff of Nick?

I also confuse these two and need more clarity…

Keira Knightly
Marty Feldman



Just kidding!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Writer's Post: Walking Away

Walking away is normally not tough; but tonight, I just don't think I can manage it. See, several weeks ago, I think I did something to my leg in Mr. Mario's elementary school running group. The PE teacher had us hopping over cones. This is easy peasy for nine and ten year olds but not for old ladies like me. After that workout, the area behind my knee started to ache.

Mr. Mario said, "It sounds like your hamstring."
I told him, "Can't be. I'm Jewish, and Jews don't eat ham."
He didn't buy it.

I've lived with mild pain for almost a month, but it hasn't been too bad; so I've continued running. Sometimes it hurts when I start, other times when I'm in motion, but always after a good run. On Saturday, I ran five miles and felt it after mile four.

Today Mr. Mario had us sprinting the length and width of a soccer field then resting for a minute and a half before going at it again. Turns out some of those little turkeys have been making fun of my great running talent. They must be jealous because I am consistently last, and they haven't learned how to be consistent runners.

It's okay. I have tough skin, but my porkstring, not so much. I guess instead of walking away, I'll have to limp… and you expected a deeply emotional post about "Walking Away?" Pffft.

 Lashana Tova to all my Jewish friends. I'll be out of commission (and the refrigerator) for a good part of the week-end, so I'll catch you later.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#GBE2: Balance

I don't have great balance. In fact, if a cop pulled me over, I might get arrested if they asked me to walk a straight line, even if sober. It's just that balance has never been one of those natural tasks for me.

When I was a Girl Scout, our troop performed a dance in which we jumped through sticks. Being uncoordinated, the leader stuck a grass skirt around my waist and had me wave my arms like a hoola girl. Everyone was jealous that I got that job. Let's hear it for clumsiness!

Way back when, I took taek won do and actually developed some balance. Then I got pregnant, and it was gone. I've never found it again.

Oh. You mean we're supposed to write about having a balanced life? Balancing everything we have to do? Heck! I can't even balance my check book. And as for the serious side of balance, my life is so out of balance, it would make my dancing look good!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Silly Sunday Shorts

A fish swims into a wall--Dam!

A man walks into a bar--Ouch!

A blogger posts lame Silly Sunday jokes--D*mn! Ouch!

Please come back anyway. I have my work evaluation on Thursday, the middle section of my novel is due to my instructor on Friday, my house needs to be cleaned for company on Saturday, and I must complete progress reports for my intellectually gifted students who keep dry under the special education umbrella in the state of Tennessee.

Sorry for not visiting as much. Life has gotten hectic--D*mn! Ouch!

Please visit Rhonda at Laugh Quotes to link up to her Silly Sunday blog hop.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Writer's Post: The Road Block to Donuts

Here I am once again facing my biggest road block when I should be working on Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts. Will, my ten year old character, wants to be invited to the weekly donut party at Harrison Zimmerman's house, but to get an invite, he must be part of the in-crowd. For a kid like Wimpy Will, this could happen–like never.

But life changes when along comes Slater, a clever fifth grader with a pointy Mohawk on top of his rounded head. Slater is eager to teach Will how to transform into Knob, the cool tough soldier; but in order to succeed, Will must pass several tests.

He certainly could do this if I'd spend more time on the novel and less time on the blog! So what do you think is my biggest road block?

Below is my opening couple of paragraphs. The first draft manuscript is almost totally complete, but it feels like a young dog: bony and lanky. I need to go back and add some meat.

Mrs. Zimmerman's Donuts
Yours Truly

            Every Friday after school, Harrison Zimmerman invited popular boys over for a stupid end-of-the-week celebration. His mom would fry up homemade donuts dipped in thick chocolate sauce. My mouth watered as we passed his house and I breathed in the scent of those gooey pieces of dough.   
Mom usually fell into a tantrum at the thought of me swallowing anything slightly junky. She fussed over eating healthy as if my gut would explode if the tiniest bit of sugar or grease tickled my insides. But the real reason I’d never eaten the donuts: Harrison had never invited me. Actually, no one had ever asked me to go anywhere.
Things were about to change.… if my author will get off the internet already. I'm a desperate boy in need of serious help! ARGGGHHH!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

#GBE2: The Beautiful Legs Contest

Is this a good one?
As a mere elementary student, I was chosen from the audience at a high school carnival to decide which guy had the most beautiful legs. A paper screen covered their faces and torsos while I walked across the stage looking for a great pair of legs. To be honest, I didn't have a clue. What are good legs supposed to look like to someone with an age still in the single digits? Finally, I pressed my finger against some guy's knee and he reveled in his victory.

Today, I'm still not sure what makes a great pair of guy legs. I'm more of a face girl, maybe one who takes notice of a cute butt, but legs never did anything for me. So at a young age I learned that the secret to judging is to set a criteria. I still don't have one, so I'm asking for your help in case anyone else ever asks me to judge beautiful legs.

What makes male legs beautiful?

I'm leaving you with a funny leg clip because nothing is beautiful about a possessed leg!

I don't know why I still ask people to push the Picket Fence button, but go ahead if you want to.