Blowing Bubbles in the Shower with my Meatball

What year did Jesus think it was?”  George Carlin

I did something really strange yesterday.  I had a shower, while chewing gum.  Thankfully, one does not need to “walk” in the shower.  I wasn’t in the mood to disprove any old adages–I had simply forgotten to spit my gum out.  Plus, it was one of those new-fangled dessert gums–apple pie, to be exact.  I like to chew every last bit of aspartame-enhanced flavour out of that one.

Being in the shower with gum in my mouth was a really weird experience.  Not sure why.  Maybe it was the constant threat of getting water on my gum.  For some reason, I feared that getting my gum wet would dry it up.  (Pause, while I scratch my head).  Despite that irrational fear, I cheekily blew a bubble and was suddenly transported back to my Grandfather’s house.  Five-year-old me was sitting at the kitchen table beside the window with all the Red Rose Tea figurines perched on its sill.  Grandad is seated across from me.  There is a bird outside whistling and I am making a pitiful attempt to mimic it.  I’m pretty sure that this attempt involved a lot of flying spit and heavy blowing.  My breath probably wasn’t minty sweet either.  Five-year-olds hate to brush their teeth.

My grandfather decides he is going to teach me to whistle.  Sounds sweet, right?  I guess it was, but, unfortunately, this pivotal moment in my life would forever hamper my whistling future.  Never would I be able to enter whistling competitions and tweet out a symphony.  Nor would I ever be able to hail a taxi with an authoritative toot.  No, I whistle just like my Grandad.  And what we do, as I found out years later, can’t really be called a whistle at all.  For one thing, my upper lip totally covers the lower one–a far cry from the lip-symmetry displayed by professional whistlers.  And, for another thing, our whistle is monotone.  I don’t know what note it is in, but it’s not an overly useful one.

This brings me to another relative’s attempt to teach me a new trick–please note that I was the only grandchild and niece for the first twelve years of my life; therefore, everyone clamoured to “educate” me.  Letterman’s Stupid Pet Tricks, but with people.

My uncle decided he wanted me to learn how to make a whistling sound (what is it with my family and whistling?) by using a blade of grass pressed between my thumbs.  I never did master this either (what is it with me and my lack of mouth coordination?), but I did get a series of grass-cuts–much worse than their paper-induced cousins–on my lips.  And my tongue (I’m a slow learner).

Another uncle tried to teach me how to catch a football.  I broke my thumb.

So, I decided to teach myself how to blow bubbles with my gum.  This was the era of Bubble Yum, a superb gum for making balloon-like bubbles.  Basically, any idiot could do it.  Even me.  And even in the shower.

Speaking of Bubble Yum, this commercial jingle still gets lodged in my mind every now and then.  Right now would be one of those times.  Ugh.  Get it lodged in your head here: 

1)  Which brings me to this riveting little piece of information.  The World Guinness Book of Records title-holder for the largest bubblegum bubble ever is Alabama resident, Chad Fell.  His bubble reached a diameter of 50.8 cm or 20 inches.  As someone who never truly grasped any of the concepts taught to her in geometry, this means absolutely nothing to me.  Thank God for pictures.  That is one hell of a big bubble.  But I think the picture after it popped would have been more telling.

It’s probably clever of him to protect his hair with a hat, but why the hell does he sport a beard?

2) And just in case you are completely bored with regular gumball-machine variety gum, someone has come up with the ultimate combination–meat & gum.  Thankfully, this gum doesn’t taste like hamburger.  It just tastes like bubble gum.  Regular pink gum.  But if you really want to try this or freak out your friends, you can order yourself a box here:

Spearmint, Peppermint, and Cinnamon are the most popular gum flavours in the world, today.  Interesting, considering that the first mass-produced gum was based on spruce gum.  Mmmm…tastes like tree.  And don’t spruces need their gum?

3)  The thing that fascinated me most while writing this gum blog, is the fact that there is an International Chewing Gum Association.  Seriously.  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.  Apparently, the gum manufacturers of the world need to associate.

I had to investigate further.  It would appear that this organization likes to brag about gum.  Not only is gum great for oral hygiene and providing a low-calorie treat, but it  is also a “delivery vehicle for dietary supplements and even medication” (their words, not mine).  This confused me immensely and then I recalled Aspergum.  I used to love Aspergum.  It is orange.

4)  And this blog wouldn’t be complete without a reference to ABC gum–what grade-schoolers’ call “Already Been Chewed” gum.

Seattle is home to the world’s greatest “nose-thumbing” at grade-school teachers everywhere.  Forget sticking your glob of masticated Juicy Fruit under your desk.  In Seattle, you can stick it to the wall beside the Market Theatre in the Pike Place Market.  Cool.  And then you can call it “art.”  Even cooler.  And, then, your little glob of gum will become part of a tourist attraction and visitors from all over will take pictures of it.

And no one will make you scrape it off and wear it on your nose.

Photo Credits:  Bubble (, Wall (Wikipedia).

Big Feet, Creepy Fruit, and Ugly Things for your Lawn

“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice””?  George Carlin.  

I woke up feeling “annoyed” today.  Not sure why.  I got a good night’s sleep–the neighbour’s dog didn’t keep me up howling this time.  You’d think I’d be pleased.  I even got any extra 30 minutes of shut-eye.  But no, I woke up bitchy.  I’m trying my best to conceal this fact.  Especially because I am usually a nauseatingly cheery sort.

Which brings me to another bone of contention.  If someone is a grumpy-gut all the time, we simply shrug it off and say, “Oh, that George.  He’s such a grouch.”  We realize that this is who “George” is and we love him anyway.  (Disclaimer: I don’t actually know any Grumpy “Georges.”)  But, when a usually pleasant person is having an off day and exhibits even the slightest sliver of bad humour, everyone goes on the attack, questioning said person as to why they are in a bad mood.  Isn’t a ray of sunshine allowed a little gloom now and then?  (Not that I am calling myself a “ray of sunshine”…other people call me that.  And modest too).

1)  Let’s face it.  People put really ugly things in their front lawns.  Things that they would never allow in their living rooms.  Hideous little gnomes.  Brightly coloured ceramic toadstools (and you already know how I feel about fungi).  Crystal balls with their paint peeling off perched on plastic pedestals.  It would appear that when it comes to lawn ornaments, tacky is better.

This is actually cheering me up.

Well, now let me introduce you to the ugliest yard “decoration” ever…the BigFoot Garden Yeti.  While there are smaller versions available, it is the life-size model that caught my eye.  Although, how you can make a “life-size” version of something that doesn’t exist is quite puzzling.

This 71 1/2 inch tall, 147 lb. monstrosity will cost you a mere $1495.00 US.  If your garden gnomes have been getting a little too cocky, put them in their place with one of these babies.  Load up your behemoth-sized shopping cart here:

I dare you.  Give your gnome a complex.

2)  Which brings me to my next topic.  Why do we call Big Foot “Big Foot?”  (Okay, that was a weird sentence to put into writing).  His feet are big, but are they really THAT Big?

Consider the Guinness World Record holder for the Biggest Feet–Morocco‘s Brahim Takioullah.  He wears a European Size 58, which apparently cannot be found stocked anywhere.  A European size 48.5 is the equivalent of a Canadian/US size 14, so one can only imagine what size this dude takes.

I once knew a guy who was 6’7″ and he always claimed that his “manliness” was in proportion to his height.  Well, if Brahim’s foot size is an indicator of his “manliness,” he will have no shortage of dates.  I mean look at those things!  They’re huge!

3)  Speaking of body parts, welcome to the strangest fruit that I have ever encountered–the Buddha’s Hand (a clever segue, even if I do say so myself).  This citrus fruit is kind of creepy looking–like the hands of a Simpsons  character that has hung out at Mr. Burns Nuclear Power plant a little too long.  Or headless octopuses.  (I always thought it was octopi, but this spell-check program claims otherwise).

Unlike oranges or grapefruits, this puppy does not require any peeling.  You eat the whole thing.  One finger at a time.


If you have tried one of these, I’d love to hear about your experience.  And while you’re at it–octopi or octopuses?

Peeping, Tomcats, Cruise, and All Things “Tom”

“If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?”   George Carlin

Yes, I missed my blog yesterday.  But in my defence, I did write.  A LOT.  And then my head hurt.

But now I am re-focussed and totally dedicated to filling your minds with useless morsels of information.   So, here we go…

Really weird things occur to me in the middle of the night and last night, I began to wonder why there are so many negative phrases about people named “Tom.”  Think about it.  There’s the lascivious leering “Peeping Tom,” the word’s most famous sceptic, “Doubting Thomas,” the caterwauling “use the girls and spit them out afterwards” Tomcat, and the phrase that stresses the “average-ness” of every “Tom, Dick, and Harry.”  What has the world got against Toms?  I know lots of Toms and they seem to be really great guys.

I decided to look at the origins of some of these phrases and here is the general consensus.

1) The term “Peeping Tom” started in Coventry, UK when Lady Godiva decided to take a naked horse ride through town to convince her greedy husband to lower the taxes levied against the poor.  (Yes, ladies.  A whole new way to get what you want.  I can hear it now–“give me your credit card or I’ll march through Walmart in the nude.”  My husband might hand over his Visa just to spare the general public.) Apparently, the town agreed to turn their eyes away from her flesh, but one man did not.  This man’s name was, of course, Tom.

2)The Bible’s Doubting Thomas really needs no explanation, so I will move on to the Tomcat–a common word that really has a boring birth story.  Some people have attributed it to Tom & Jerry, but it existed long before this cartoon was even conceived.  It simply stemmed from an eighteenth-century children’s book about a cat named Tom called The Life and Adventures of a Cat.  Quite frankly, I was disappointed.  And now I have disappointed you.

After scouring the Internet, and asking every Tom, Dick, and Harry, it would appear that no one knows the origin of the phrase “Tom, Dick, and Harry.”  I guess a modern-day version would be every “Brandon, Alex, and Cody.”  Somehow, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

3)  While we’re on the subject of “Tom’s”, I felt compelled to give a shout out to my fellow Robert Hopkins Public School-ites with a pop culture tidbit on my least favourite Tom, Tom Cruise.

In case you weren’t aware, Mr. Cruise spent  several years of his childhood in Beacon Hill, a neighbourhood in Ottawa’s east end–as did I.  In fact, he attended Robert Hopkins Public School for grades 3, 4, and 5.  I was there for grades 4, 5, and 6.  And we were both taught by Pennyann Styles and Shirley Gaudreau.  Normally, having so much in common with a huge movie star would be exciting, but come on–it’s Tom Cruise.  The Oprah couch-hopping, Scientology-spouting, moron who attacked Brooke Shields for taking medication for her postpartum depression.   Six degrees of separation would never be enough.