Phlegm is not festive.

I have spent Christmas nursing some life-sucking virus that entered my body when an intellectually sub-par primate with a leaking face approached my cash register. He was the perfect poster child for the power of influenza–bloodshot eyes that oozed green globules of snot, a crimson clown-like nose, and so many cold sores around his mouth that he looked like he had been bobbing for apples with razor blades in them.

"Here, take this money out of my hand. It's right between my used Kleenex and my half-sucked cough drop."

“Here, take this money out of my hand. It’s right between my used Kleenex and my half-sucked cough drop.”

What dragged this typhus-laden individual from the solitude of his eiderdown comforter out into the public oxygen space? Apparently, he was experiencing some sort of emergency that could only be solved by purchasing an…um…book. I didn’t see exactly what book he was buying as I was rather obsessively trying not to touch any part of said book that had come in contact with his sweat-drenched, bacteria-riddled hands.

And no, his snot rag was not nearly this pretty. And the green stuff was not hand-stitched writing.

And no, his snot rag was not nearly this pretty. And the green stuff was not hand-stitched writing.

Perhaps, his home was on fire and he wanted to read up on planning escape routes. I really don’t know. Hopefully, he did manage to go home and successfully escape the flames.

I'm pretty sure he didn't buy this book.

I’m pretty sure he didn’t buy this book.

Maybe, his illness had simply rendered him bored–in dire need of mental stimulation. Based on his apparent brain power, however, I am convinced that the tasks of putting on his pants and tying up his shoes should have proved mentally stimulating enough.

No caption required.

No caption required.

Thanks to this nitwit, I have forgone the fun that is Christmas. No Christmas Eve church service. No volunteering at the annual Christmas dinner for the lonely or destitute. And, damn it all, no trekking to Walmart to battle the masses for Boxing Day deals on cheap batteries, DVDs, and half-priced Lindt chocolates. I blame you Face Running Man. A pox upon your household.

One of the many fine titles that I am missing out on today.

One of the many fine titles that I am missing out on today.

But to everyone else, I wish you giggles, hugs, and good health!!

Photos courtesy of:

Sick man http://oystercardjunkie.co.uk/tag/office-life/

Snot rag: http://www.kaboodle.com/reviews/snot-rag-handkerchief

Book: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/stop-drop-and-roll#cart/cleanup

Why do people keep cutting me in half to see if my insides are green?

In my quest to find a daily topic to write about, I have decided to select the first thing that pops in to my mind–a rather risky method as evidenced by yesterday’s foray into the world of armpit hair.  Today, however, a more polite (although equally random) subject has emerged from my cranium.  Kiwi birds.

"Damn, I'm cute."

“Damn, I’m cute.”

First of all, I have to put this out there.  It sucks to be a kiwi. Forget feeling sorry for the IQ-challenged dodo.  And don’t waste your pity on the ostrich with his head in the sand.  The unfortunate kiwi is the feathered friend truly deserving of your sympathy. To begin with, he cannot fly.  His bones aren’t hollow like other bird bones and his wings are short and stubby–making him the T-Rex of birds.

Secondly, they lay the largest eggs in relation to their body size out of any bird in the world.  Mama Kiwi is the size of a chicken, but she lays eggs the size of an ostrich’s.  If you thought childbirth was a bitch, be glad you didn’t have to lay an egg the size of your pillow.  And that’s one of those big puffy pillows–not your old down-filled one that has been flattened to a crepe.  You know, the yellowed, drool-riddled Obusform that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say “looks more like a Civil War bandage.”

Kiwi egg

But, they do have nostrils on their beaks.  I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse.  It all depends on whether or not he’s planning on visiting my husband after bean night.

“Beak” the Kiwi Beanie Baby was produced for only one year and sadly can now be purchased for a cent online.  Yes, even the plush versions of our little New Zealander have it rough.  Ironically, New Zealanders of the human kind are referred to as “Kiwis.”  But what about the green fuzzy fruit?

Meet Beak.

Meet Beak.

The kiwi bird has had its name hijacked by that odd-looking furry fruit.  The fruit is actually called a “kiwifruit” and is not, in fact, a “kiwi” at all.  A kiwi smoothie, therefore, is not what you think it is.  Ack.

Kiwi_VS_Kiwi_Bird_by_shibbynempahcold

This little bird, however, has enjoyed fame thanks to a manufacturer of shoe polish.  Yes, since 1906, KIWI’s name and image has been splashed across the front of this product that is now available worldwide.  The company’s founder chose the name “KIWI” in honour of his New Zealand-born wife.  Plus, he thought the bird looked nice on his small round tins.

A retro Kiwi tin.

A retro Kiwi tin.

I’m not sure if being the star of the “laces and polishes” racks in stores across the world makes up for the stubby arms, giant egg-laying, and low value in the Beanie Baby trade.  If you see a kiwi, give it a hug.  Odds are that the poor bugger has been through a lot.

If it’s any consolation to the kiwi community, people are blogging about you:

Conservation blog: http://blog.doc.govt.nz/2013/08/27/kaipara-kiwi/

Factotum of Arts: http://factotum-of-arts.com/2013/08/12/weekend-finishes-12-08-2013/

Infinite Sadness…or Hope?  http://infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com/tag/kiwi-bird/

B (heart) D: http://baileyolivia.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/when-i-say-kiwi-you-think/

Do you call the kiwifruit a kiwi?  

kiwi prep

Images courtesy of:  cute kiwi (http://pinterest.com/pin/553168766700624424/), Kiwi egg (http://misswrightenglish.blogspot.ca/2012/09/kiwis.html), Beak (http://stuffedanimaltoys.guidestobuy.com/ty-beanie-baby-kiwi#chitika_close_button), kiwi vs kiwi (http://shibbynempahcold.deviantart.com/art/Kiwi-VS-Kiwi-Bird-21535732), polish (http://longwhitekid.wordpress.com/category/kiwi-boot-polish-co/), kiwi prep (http://kevinw.de/greenbird/2010/04/26/how-to-prepare-a-kiwi/).

My armpit and the hairs that call it “home”

I have been neglecting my baby, The Embiggens Projects, as of late, so I have decided to try an experiment.  I am going to see if I can examine a new topic every day, instead of intermittently tackling three.  Bear with me.  Each day will be very different from the previous one.  Don’t ask me why, but I have decided to kick this new idea off with armpit hair.  It’s something we all have, but rarely talk about.  So, here is my diatribe dedicated to the follicles that try to live in the pit at the base of my arm.

Armpits4August: 

In case you haven’t heard–which I hadn’t, but I live under a rather large slab of granite–women have taken to growing out their underarm hair for charity.  Yes, men have movember.  And women have Armpits4August.  Yes, luxurious locks are sprouting under an arm near you in support of the little known condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  One of the symptoms of this disease is excessive hair growth.

armpit hair

The Great Underarm Campaign:

North American women have only been shaving their armpits en masse for about 100 years.  Yup, Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennet, Catherine Earnshaw, and all of our other favorite literary heroines likely had armpits like brillo pads.  And they probably smelled like horse.

In 1915, Harper’s Bazaar featured a shocking photo of a woman wearing a sleeveless dress that revealed a smooth and silky underarm.  This was followed by an advertising campaign by Wilkinson Sword to convince women that it was non-hygienic to have hairy pits.  I’m sure that sword sales were waning.  The sales of razor blades doubled in less than  two years as women become self-conscious of having manly underarms–heaven forbid.  I wonder when mass-produced deodorant came onto the market?
gender-history-manipulating-women-into-shaving-under-their-arms

“Mum” was the word and Pens saved our armpits:

So, mystery solved.  The first deodorant was invented in 1888 and was called, Mum.  Strange name.  In the 1940’s an intelligent woman–is there any other kind?–joined the team and stole the roller-ball idea from the production of pens to create a roll-on.  This deodorant was called Ban.  Who knew?

Armpit juice of the 1950's.

Armpit juice of the 1950’s.

A 1933 armpit hair removal device.  Yikes.

A 1933 armpit hair removal device. Yikes.

laser hare

1065026110_0ba12e8fab_o

deodorant_1942435

Well, now you know a wee bit more about your armpits and the hairs that call them home.

Do you think long armpit hair on women is natural, sexy, or does it send you screaming in the opposite direction?  Inquiring minds want to know.  

And, in case you want to read more riveting armpit facts, here are some fellow  Wordpressers that have something to say on the topic.

A Kaur’s Thoughts:  http://kaurthoughts.wordpress.com/2012/08/21/part-1-to-shave-or-not-to-shave-a-history-of-shaving/

…Said the Blind Man http://semiblind.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/smooth/

Tanya’s Armpits4August 2013 http://tanyasarmpits4august2013.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/almost-there-all-the-hair/

Images:  arm pit hair (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2404374/Armpits4August-Did-YOU-grow-underarm-hair-charity-These-women-did-.html), Harper’s Bazaar (http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2008/05/24/anxiety-about-objectionable-hair-money-in-someones-pocket), BAN (http://www.flickriver.com/photos/roadsidepictures/7640666640/), 1933 device (http://www.the-beheld.com/2012/04/conundrum-of-body-hair.html),  laser “hare” removal (www.cartoonstock.com), deodorant misfits (http://fuffer.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/shipwrecked/), octopus (http://www.toonpool.com/cartoons/deodorant_194243).  
 
https://plus.google.com/117290101799547312394/posts

Help! I’m trapped in an El Camino wearing a Clown Suit with Mimi Bobeck

If you have never had the…um…pleasure of experiencing a full-blown panic attack, consider yourself lucky.  When I was in my early twenties–back in the days before compact discs and Pantene–I used to have a lot of them.  I worked in a bank and had what was, perhaps, the strangest job description a financial institution has ever concocted.  In the morning, I adopted the role of bubbly receptionist with an Osmond Family grin.  In the afternoon, however, I kissed my sunny disposition adieu and put on my snarly collection officer hat.  Ironically, my desk didn’t change.  Just my persona.  

Mayor from The Nightmare Before Christmas

I wonder how many customers wandered away thinking, “that little redheaded girl must suffer from a multiple personality disorder.”  Note to self:  stay away from former place of employment and men who drive large white vans with padded interiors.  

Anywho, I blame the sudden appearance of my panic attacks on my unusual job duties.  And on the fact that I was still living among cockroaches.  And I had just been chased down the street by a man in an electric wheelchair.  But you already know about all of that.  

And they thought I was deranged...

And they thought I was deranged…

Amazingly, I was not the lone sufferer of high anxiety.  It turned out that the soft-spoken, seemingly “had her shit together” loans officer–we’ll call her Wilma.  I don’t know why–spent a great deal of her time fighting heart palpitations, dizziness, and an irrepressible desire to flee with her hands up in the air yelling gibberish.  

panic attack

In fact, she introduced me to a sure-fire way to fight the panic.  And it involved lying on the floor.  Now, my fear of being stepped on–particularly by someone wearing golfing cleats–precluded me from flopping spread-eagle on the linoleum beside my desk, aka the Jekyll and Hyde district.

giant cleat

Giant cleats…they DO exist.

 “Wilma,” however had a carpeted office with a functioning door.  Here, we could both lie on our backs, engage in deep-breathing exercises, and imagine our “happy places.”  Hers involved meadows, songbirds, and sunshine.  Mine was Times Square on a July afternoon–which could explain why meditation has never worked for me.

happy place

Thankfully, once I shed the job, the panic attacks–and the need to find a carpeted spot in a low-traffic area–disappeared.  As did my antacid addiction.  And my fear of mental health professionals.

While I have been panic attack-free for twenty years, there are a few things that could potentially tip me over the edge.   

1.  creepy clownClowns freak me out.  Personally, I think there is something seriously wrong with someone who spends their day in big floppy shoes, an afro wig, and lipstick that looks like it was put on by a far-sighted centenarian with a tremor.  

Personally, I have never understood why people flock to circuses.  And I always give Ronald McDonald statues a wide berth.  But no amount of Zoloft could quell the anxiety that sleeping on an actual “clown pillow” would create.  

Seriously.  There are people that actually make clown pillows.  And, there are sick, twisted, individuals with way too much disposable income who buy them.  

Here is a horrifying glimpse of the many innocent pillows that have been defaced by clowns.   

clown pillow handstitchedclown pillow cheshire cat grinclown pillow 5 oclock shadowclown pillow hole in headclown pillow impressionistclown pillow pom pom fringe

Which one would deprive you of the most zzz’s?  Which one is the least horrific?  

imgElCamino

2.  This is a strange phobia, I know–especially for someone who loves cars as much as I do–but El Camino’s scare the crap out of me.  I don’t know why.  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Chevy’s version of the Ford Ranchero (another freak on wheels), it was basically a coupe with a truck box.  Yup, Dr. Frankenstein bred a Chevelle with a C1500 and this is the ugly baby.  

Forget the ’57 Fury.  Christine should have been an El Camino.  Definitely uglier.  And a whole lot scarier.  

troll-dolls-i-prefer-wishniks-but-dam-did-a-fine-troll-job-i-demotivational-poster-1276801094

3)  The ugliest toy known to man, without a doubt, is the troll doll.  Dolls, as you know, are high on my list of “things that freak me out,” but the worst of all are these rainbow-coloured freaks with bad hair and mongoloid monkey faces.  Their association with Mimi Bobeck does not help either.  She was just weird.  

Since I’m supposed to be regaling you with dendrite-enhancing knowledge, here are a few little known troll doll facts.  

It turns out that it is perfectly okay to refer to these plastic atrocities as “damn trolls” as you are not too far off the mark.  The first collectible troll dolls were created by the Dam family of Denmark in the ’50s and are officially known as “Dam Things.”  

The most collectible trolls are black trolls, 2-headed ones (yikes), those with real mohair, and ones that appear to be the result of an animal pairing.  

DreamWorks animation has acquired the film rights to the Damn Things troll dolls and, apparently, plans to use them in a feature film.  This would truly be a horror flick.

That’s enough about troll dolls.  I’m getting hives.   

What things freak you out?  

Photo credits:  Old folk on Rascals (http://www.kulfoto.com/funny-pictures/20153/riding-together), Panic attack (http://www.trollmania.org/it-was-just-a-little-panic-attack/), Happy Place (http://yenyoga.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/celebrating-summer-yoga-in-times-square/), Giant Cleat (http://www.flickr.com/photos/redlady_rike/), “Go To Bed” (http://www.meh.ro/tag/clowns/);clown pillows: handstitched (http://www.etsy.com/listing/117997398/vintage-needlepoint-clown-pillow-pale), Cheshire cat grin (http://www.migandtig.com/Circus-Clown-Pillow-Down-Filled_p_2612.html), 5 o’clock shadow clown (http://etsystalker.com/2010/04/22/scary-clowns-for-violet/), hole in head (http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/free-shipping-new-arrive-The-Horror-Clown-cushion-pillow-b0873/703275_421999360.html), impressionist clown (http://www.zazzle.com/funny+clowns+pillows), pompom fringe (http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=34926.0#axzz2ajKJNvbP); El Camino (http://1969elcaminoforsale.com/), troll tattoo (http://pics3.this-pic.com/key/dam%20troll%20dolls).

Crispy, crunchy cockroaches–great neighbours, great food.

I am about to confess one of my darkest and deepest secrets.  I have lived among cockroaches.  And more than once.  Phew.  There.  I’ve said it.  One more skeleton freed from an overstuffed closet.

My very first apartment was home to so many of the crunchy critters that I had to flick on the kitchen light first with my eyes closed and not return until my raunchy little roommates had departed to crevices unknown.  In my next apartment, we learned to co-exist peacefully.  We were both aware of one another’s existence, but we respected each other’s boundaries.  They had free run of the place when I wasn’t home.  And, in return, they made themselves scarce when I returned.  My third apartment, however, dealt me a breed of cockroach that no amount of horror movie watching could have prepared me for.

Don't let these four-legged imposters fool you.  Cockroaches are not green.  Nor are they cute.

Don’t let these four-legged imposters fool you. Cockroaches are not green. Nor are they cute.

I knew we had cockroaches.  My human roommate and I had bug-proofed our food–which cost a fortune in Tupperware, I might add.  We had installed a miniature village of Roach Hotels.  And, we left the bathroom and kitchen lights on in hopes that they would move on to a less vigilant neighbour.  But these radiation resistant roamers are not easily deterred.  They opted, instead, to bring in the big guns.

Bearing the nickname "Cockroach" is not a compliment--no matter what Theo Huxtable tells you.

Bearing the nickname “Cockroach” is not a compliment–no matter what Theo Huxtable tells you.

As I lay in my bed, awakened by the sense that something was not right, I noticed a strangely shaped shadow in the hallway, just outside my bedroom door.  It had antennae and a number of spindly legs–anything with more than four is bad news.  Yes.  It was a cockroach large enough to cast a shadow.  Albeit, it was a small shadow.  But no insect should be big enough to have one at all.  Insects by their very nature should be shadowless.

Rendered immobilized by fear, I simply waited for him, the King of all Bugs, to make his way to his throne–somewhere in the bathroom (which, ironically, is where my throne resided also), and moved shortly after.  The cockroach population had showed their hand and mine was no match.  I folded.

And, yes.  The only time to befriend a cockroach is when every other living creature on the entire planet has died.

And, yes. The only time to befriend a cockroach is when every other living creature on the entire planet has died.

Here are a few factoids about this resilient little creature that even a brick dropped from a substantial height cannot kill.

1)  I am eternally grateful that my first apartment was not located in Queensland, Australia–nothing against the lovely Australian people.  I simply do not think I could handle their “giant burrowing cockroaches.”  Yes, these monsters–and expert shadow casters–can weigh up to 1.2 ounces.  Holy crap.  16 of those buggers weigh more than a pound.  Ack.

It appears to take TWO HANDS to carry a giant burrowing cockroach.  EW.

If it takes two hands to hold a bug, I sure as hell am not going to be picking it up.  Drop it and run, moron.

2) Cockroaches love to be snuggled.  Yes, these hideous, unhuggable creatures love to be touched and seek out surfaces such as walls, crevices, and household items to give them that warm and fuzzy feeling.  Whacking them with a shoe simply equates to a helping of tough love–a rough thwack of the contact that they desperately crave.

Excuse me,  You've got a bug on your chest.

Excuse me, You’ve got a bug on your chest.

3)  Decapitation is a minor setback.  Yes, cockroaches can survive a couple of weeks without their heads.  I guess it helps to be able to breathe through gaps in your body segments, to have an efficient wound-clotting system, and to be able to go for weeks without food.  Hm.  If I could breathe out my ass, I’m not sure I’d want to.  Talk about bad breath.  Furthermore, cockroaches are butt ugly, but a headless cockroach would be even worse.  Note to self: Giant, headless cockroach–possible lead character in next novel?  Great opportunity to examine self-loathing and hot topic of bullying.

Damn.  Who turned the lights out?

Damn. Who turned the lights out?

4)  Eat them in moderation.  Apparently, some people will eat anything.  But who in the hell can look at a plate of Hissing Madagascar Cockroaches and say, “Mm. Can’t wait to get me some of those.”  Six Flags has been hosting a seasonal Cockroach Eating Contest for years, but an incident in Florida has put these events on hold.  A pet store decided to hold one of their own.  The prize?  A python.  Yup, eat a plate of bugs and go home with a snake.  Well, in October of 2012, a 32-year-old man died from cockroach consumption during the contest.  He literally died of a bug.  Sorry.  I realize that this is a serious moment and I should not be making puns.

cockroach suicide

cockroach nose

cockroach exterminator

cockroach motel

 

Check out my latest musings at Searching for Barry Weiss…http://searchingforbarryweiss.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/barry-weiss-and-a-bunch-of-boobs/

If you’d like to read more about cockroaches, check out:

Cockroaches: More Than Just Pests

Finally, the cockroach gets some respect

Why do cockroaches exist at all?

Roaches with jet packs

Photo credits  Raid cockroaches (http://www.bogleech.com/blather-pests.html), Cosby Cockroach (http://bardfilm.blogspot.ca/2008/12/cosby-show-raps-julius-caesar.html), Wall.E cockroach (http://mattphipps.squarespace.com/home/2012/4/19/a-brief-history-of-cockroaches.html),  Giant burrowing roach (http://www.bugshop.com.au/pro4.html), roach tee (http://www.zazzle.com/madagascar_hissing_cockroach_t_shirt-235748507003678079), headless (http://espmblattodea.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/cockroaches-more-than-just-pests/), cockroach suicide http://misfit120.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/finally-the-cockroach-gets-some-respect-shades-of-rodney-dangerfield/, cockroach in nose (http://ecolocalizer.com/2011/09/01/lonnie-millsap-twisted-comic-genius-or-just-weird/), exterminator (http://laurencehunt.blogspot.ca/2011_04_01_archive.html), cockroach motel (http://www.zazzle.com/roach_infidelity_funny_gifts_tees_collectibles_card-137352208743158604).      

A rodent shot me, I bit my ear, and my breath smells like baby powder.

I have often been told that I have a…um…unique way of looking at life.  I blame my parents.  My mother has accidentally brushed her teeth with squeeze-tubed deodorant.  She has also failed to notice that instead of applying lip gloss to her lips, she had actually smeared them with a generous helping of creamy blue eyeshadow.  Yes, my mother has experienced a huge number of cosmetic catastrophes over the years.  And, she is also a distracted walker.  If there is a groundhog hole within a five mile radius, she will find it, and her five-foot-zero frame will fall into it up to her chin.  She’s pissed off a lot of rodents.  Don’t even get me started on the time she cross-country skied into a parked car.

"Always with the legs in my hole.  Next time I shoot."

“Always with the legs in my hole. Next time I shoot.”

My father is equally entertaining, particularly when he is attempting to be a Mr. Fix-it–something that does not come naturally to him.  Or to any other member of my family.  He has drilled through the front of his t-shirt–while still wearing it, come within seconds of knocking a large sledgehammer onto his skull, and regularly displays his latest wounds with pride.  He never knows where or when he got them.  It would appear that I got my lack of sense–shut up–gene from him.  He has driven into my car, the side of his garage doorway–and probably other things that he hasn’t told us about.  Did I tell you that we’re not the most observant bunch?  And that we seem to lack spatial reasoning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77PymmxMLJM

I have no siblings to pick apart, but I’m sure they would have been equally strange.  Our pets were always neurotic.  Especially the French poodle.  He wasn’t actually French.  In fact, he came with a Mexican name.  I think I acquired my neurotic tendencies from him.  After all, what self-respecting dog demands that his ears get tied in a knot on top of his head every time he eats?  Neurotic.  Good thing I don’t have long floppy ears.  My husband would never take me out for supper–with all the ear-tying and stuff.

Is it me or does this water taste thick and creamy?

Is it me or does this water taste thick and creamy?

1)  In the year 2013, our deodorant is unlikely to come in a squeeze tube–perhaps due to a large number of tooth-brushing accidents in the late ’60s.  I don’t imagine that ingesting antiperspirant  is good for one’s health.  Namely because our guts don’t sweat.  I wonder if swallowing a large amount of deodorant would dry up your innards.  Maybe science should examine this as a possible way to do away with excess water weight.

My point is–and I do have one–that some products lend themselves to a certain type of packaging.  Deodorant belongs in those hard plastic containers that look like stubby people with no arms.

Milk belongs in cartons or jugs.  I would never think of drinking it from a fountain or a garden hose.  Water, however, should never come from a carton.  It seems unnatural–no matter what the folks at Boxed Water is Better tell me.  I need to see my water before I drink it.  Only yellow, lumpy water would hide itself in a carton.  And this girl doesn’t drink water with solids in it.  Ack.

Can you get me an extra large Q-tip please?

Can you get me an extra large Q-tip please?

2)  My dog had fairly ordinary ears, but he had one of those side-by-side water/food dish combos and he hated getting his ears wet.  This is understandable.  It must be annoying to have to drink ear water.

Now, the dog with the world’s longest ears has real problems.  This is Harbor, the Coonhound, from Boulder, Colorado.  He is a tad bit asymmetrical–sort of like a woman’s natural boobs–as he has one ear that measures 13.5 inches long, while the other is a demure 12.25 inches.  Ladies, very few of us have two breasts that are the exact same size.  And yes, I have just given men a new reason to grope their nearest and dearest.  But like Harbor the Dog’s ear, our disproportional mammaries give us character.  Even if we do list to one side.

I'm a little accident prone.  This makes me sad.

I’m a little accident prone. This makes me sad.

3) Due to my lack of spatial reasoning, my poorly honed observational skills, and my innate klutziness, I decided to conduct some research to find out what car I should never ever own.  It turns out that the internet is ripe with lists of the most accident-prone vehicles.  Here are few that I found.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that the top 3 wounded vehicles in 2012 were:

3) Chevrolet Aveo

2) Suzuki 4X4

1) Toyota Yaris

If you live in the UK, the Telegraph provides this top 3:

3) Lexus RX

2) Volvo XC90

1) Honda FR-V

Thankfully, my car is none of these.  I can, therefore, keep it.  And my ears can blow in the breeze.

Photo credits: renegade groundhog (http://www.personal.psu.edu/jac5682/fun.htm), boxed milk (http://www.eatdrinkdo.com/index.php/2010/11/bottled-water-fights-back/), Harbor the Dog (http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/video-meet-harbor-the-new-dog-with-the-longest-ears-in-the-world/), Sad Car (http://toomuchfree-time.blogspot.ca/2011/02/sad-car-is-sad.html).

Sheepdogs and Sandals Don’t Mix.

I truly appreciate you, my loyal followers.  For this reason, I have decided to impart two very valuable life lessons that I learned at an early age.

Never wear sandals when playing within 100 feet of a large Sheepdog.  If you do not have access to a change of shoes, proceed with caution–and never, ever run.  You are likely shaking your head and thinking, ” this woman is an idiot.  I will wear sandals while playing with a Sheepdog if I want to.  Heck, I’ll play with a whole herd of Sheepdogs in my bare feet.”  I understand these thoughts.  After all, who am I to tell you how to dress your feet?  I can simply offer you the following cautionary tale.

You know they're shifty when they hide their eyes behind their fur.

You know they’re shifty when they hide their eyes behind their fur.

I was nine years old and the world was my oyster.  School was out for the summer and I looked forward to two whole months of stalking the cute neighbourhood teenage boys with my friends.  And the lady down the street had just bought a Sheepdog puppy.  I had never actually hung out with a Sheepdog–and my parents hadn’t yet given in to my whiny request for a canine of my own.  This wizened neighbour decided to form a saprophytic relationship with the local children.  We were blessed with the healthful benefits of walking her greatly coveted dog, while she had the luxury of remaining in front of her TV set, enjoying the latest episode of Three’s Company.

"Thank God I didn't have to miss this riveting episode in which Jack lands himself in quite the pickle."

“Thank God I didn’t have to miss this riveting episode in which Jack lands himself in quite the pickle.”

 

It seemed that the neighbourhood children all took the same root for these dog-walking excursions–the sidewalk in front of my house.  Keep this information in mind because it will be important later.

If my sidewalk had a sign, it would say this--without the Japanese characters.

If my sidewalk had a sign, it would say this–without the Japanese characters.

Now, this is where I must interrupt myself and present life lesson number two.  Never trust a slightly older childhood friend who offers you dried cherries from a zip-lock bag–no matter how well you think you know her.

Never trust anyone who offers you candy.

Never trust anyone who offers you candy.

I will now resume my tale.

It was a sunny day and my friends and I were sitting in the grass clump in the middle of our circle–we lived in garden home condominiums, in case our circle is confusing to you.  It actually wasn’t really a circle.  More of a rectangle with round corners.  Anyway, the slightly older and presumably wiser member of our clan offered everyone some of her cherry delicacies.  My fellow 9-year-olds exchanged nervous glances.  Unfortunately, I was the child who was usually willing to try almost anything–I like to think of myself as adventurous, but others may have said I was stupid.  The older girl recognized my stupidity   adventurous nature, and added, “They’re really good if you take a handful and let them melt in your mouth.”  I should have questioned the ability of a cherry to “melt” and, I definitely should have heeded the snicker of the other older kid–the mean one with the massive freckles and bowl-shaped hairdo.  But I am an idiot.

Okay, maybe I'm not a complete idiot.

It’s nice to know that there is someone dumber than I am.

I popped a generous helping of dehydrated “cherries” and proceeded to find out what it would feel like to have a grenade go off in your mouth.  The cherries were in fact some type of high grade pimento.  I was sure that my mouth skin was actually on fire.  Surely, my tongue had disintegrated.  I leapt to my feet and sprinted towards my kitchen–a reliable source of flame-dampening tap water.  That’s when it happened.  I heard a barely audible squishing sound and felt something soft and warm ooze between my toes.

I looked down at my feet and wiped the fire-induced tears from my eyes.  It was as I feared.  My foot was completely covered in fresh sheepdog poop.

This will teach him to poop on my sidewalk.

This will teach him to poop on my sidewalk.

Now, I was presented with an entirely new dilemma–run into the house to put out the inferno that was formerly my mouth, but leave a trail of poopy footprints in my wake.  Or look for a puddle or sprinkler to wash my shit-smeared appendage in, but lose several layers of mouth skin in the process.  I stood on my front lawn in a state of utter confusion and discomfort.  I must have been making some sort of noise–likely wailing–because suddenly my mother appeared.  She was here to save me…and my mouth…and my poop-covered foot.

Thankfully, the flesh in my mouth did survive and my foot is no longer brown.  But I learned two valuable lessons that day–never be the guinea pig when it comes to strange good.  And sandals and sheepdogs don’t mix.

 

I invite you to check out the latest post on my other blog:  http://searchingforbarryweiss.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/i-cheer-barry-cheers-we-all-cheer-for-thom-beers/

Photo credits:  Sheep dog lineup (http://www.nocaptionneeded.com/2008/02/madonna-and-the-santa-clones-at-the-dog-show/), Three’s Company (http://www.threescompany.com/tcompany/www/history.html), usual route (http://bethedos.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/the-challenge-of-change/usual-route/), Gene Wilder 9http://memegenerator.net/instance/35985519), idiot (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=idiot),  pelt (http://www.pointtrade.co.uk/191880/fancy-dress-old-english-sheep-dog),

I’ll have my toast extra black please with a side order of scabs. And get that spoon out of my ear.

I seem to attract weirdos.  Shut up.  I know what you’re thinking.

But seriously, I am like a giant fly strip for freaks.  I have yet to meet another person that has been chased down the street by a guy in an electric wheel chair accompanied by a limping lackey with a case of 24 beer on his shoulder.  All I remember is someone shouting “Get Her!” and the pursuit was on.  It’s hard to outrun someone in a motorized device.  You know, with them having a motor and all.  Plus, this was back in the day of those pointy pumps.  You know.  The ones from the ’80s that came in every colour under the sun, but were really ugly.  Unfortunately, that was what I was wearing.  Ecru pumps.  And I hadn’t had the lifts done recently.  Needless to say, I made it to my house and locked the door.  And moved away shortly after.

Run FLAPF!  Run!

Run FLAPF! Run!

Have you ever had a customer ask you for a cover for his banking passbook and tell you he eats them?  I have.  And when I laughed (because, naturally, I thought he was joking), he gave me a dirty look and said they only require a little salt.  He seemed deadly serious about it all.  He didn’t really look like a person whose diet consisted of plastic bank book covers–not that I know exactly what that would look like.  I imagine it would involve broken teeth and the need to remain in a hunched-up, cramped position–due to the intestinal blockage and all.

Apparently, a little salt makes these a tasty treat.

Apparently, a little salt makes these a tasty treat.

Do  you regularly get winked at by octogenarians in mudflap hats–you know, the hunting style hat with the ears that hang down?  I do.  Perhaps, this only happens in Canada.

If it's wearing this hat, it will wink at me.

If it’s wearing this hat, it will wink at me.

I spent an entire flight with a strange man’s head on my shoulder.  He was snoring.  I was younger then–kinder and gentler–and I didn’t have the heart to wake him up.  Plus, his head didn’t seem to have anything crawling in it.  Nor were his shoulders coated in dandruff.  Today, I would probably snap his head off my shoulder so hard it would land in someone’s kosher meal on the other side of the plane.  I’ve become jaded over the years.  Too many weirdos.

And no, it's not snow.

And no, it’s not snow.

This is just a small sampling of the weirdos that I have encountered.  I’ll save the others for later blogs.  Don’t want to use up my best material in one post.  Hehe.

I collect things–other than weirdos–so I wondered what weirdos collect.  Besides passbook covers.  And strange hats.

Mm.  Charcoal donut with charcoal filling.

Mm. Charcoal donut with charcoal filling.

1)  It would seem that some weirdos have a penchant for burning food and calling it “art.”  First of all, why would you purposely set out to burn your food?  Didn’t their parents tell that them that there are starving children in Africa?  Second of all, burnt food stinks and it leaves a horrific odour in your house for days–and nothing is worse than the smell of a burnt carbohydrate.  Lastly, who in their right mind is going to pay money to see a collection of burnt food?  I could visit a remedial home economics class and see this for free.  But, then again, I have to think like a weirdo.  They probably eat this stuff right up.  Figuratively and literally.

If you are a weirdo–which is quite likely (after all, I do attract  them), you may wish to pay a visit to the Museum of Burnt Food in Arlington, Mass.  Yes, you and nine of your friends can endure enjoy a 90-minute “interactive theatrical tour experience that combines an engaging mix of character, observation, humor, discussion and performance-art” (burntfoodmuseum.com).  What is the price for this revolting riveting experience?  Now here is where it gets really weird–$500.  Yes, this is for the weirdo elite.

At least they throw in a harpist.  ‘Cuz nothing goes with a burnt waffle better than the angelic sounds of a harp.  And a negative bank account balance.

This one rendered me speechless.  Yup...I've still got nothin'

This one rendered me speechless. Yup…I’ve still got nothin’

2)  In case you’ve ever wondered what kind of tattoo a weirdo would get, I think I have that figured out too.  Most people want a tattoo that says something that is personally meaningful to them in their “human” lives.  I stress the word human.  You know–a motto, a loved one’s name, a favourite animal/bug/plant/etc.  Someone who has truly mastered the art of weirdness, however, walks into a tattoo shop and says, “Hey.  I’m tired of being a human.  I think that today I want to be a cat.  A wild, spotted, man-eating cat.”

That’s exactly what Tom Leppard, Scot and former recluse, did.  And his feline transformation didn’t stop at his flesh.  He had some teeth removed and others made into sharp, cat-like fangs.  If you’re going to become another species, you might as well go all out.

I wonder what came first–the name or the spots?  And if his last name was Foot, what would he have done?

Obviously invented by one of those guys that sticks his keys in his ears and then licks them.

Obviously invented by one of those guys that sticks his keys in his ears and then licks them.

3)  Even a weirdo has to eat, but what would be a weirdo’s food of choice?  Probably something weird.  And, maybe, a little gross.

People seem to love to talk about the nose-pickers of the world–the ones that sit in their cars at a red light and embark on an elbow-deep archaeological dig right there.  They seem to forget that their windows are see-through.  Well, what about the ear-pickers that walk amongst us?  Should they not also share some of the shame?  Especially the ones that grab a handy pointed object and turn it into an putty knife for ear wax.  Ack.  Has no one told them the “don’t put anything in your ears that is smaller than your elbow” rule?

As you know, I am a tad bit neurotic.  I have now just added yet another phobia to my list–other people’s keys.  The  thought of my skin coming in touch with someone else’s ear gunk is horrifying.  When we use a Q-tip we throw it out for that exact reason.  If ear wax was something to be passed on to your friends and neighbours, we would keep our dirty cotton swabs on stick and mail them to our nearest and dearest.  If you stick your key in your ear, throw it out.

Anyways, back to weirdo food.  I’m sure that weirdos partake in all sorts of strange edibles–A Box of Boogers, Toe Jam Cotton Candy, and the occasional candy scab.  But I’m sure that they’re preferred epicurean delight is a healthy helping of Ear Wax Candy.  And they can eat it straight from an ear.  With a custom-designed Q-tip.

I know I’ve been sort of hard on weirdos in this post, but I have to admit that I am hugely indebted to them.  Without weird people, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.  So, in honour of the weirdos of the world, I dedicate this 1970’s Canadian classic to you.  It may seem like a “weird” song choice, but with the line “long-haired freaky people need not apply,” I thought it was apropos.

Signs by 5 Man Electrical Band

A special shout out to my buddy http://onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/unblissful-signs/ who recently blogged about this exact song.

 

If you want more, visit my latest post to my other blog here: http://searchingforbarryweiss.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/to-flub-or-not-to-flub-barry-weiss-sets-hitches-his-sitcom-star-to-the-great-white-north/

Photo credits:  Forrest Gump (http://forrestgump227.wordpress.com/symbolism/), passbook cover (http://banksupplies.com/passbook-cover-3-x-4.html),  Walter Matthau (http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=7768), Burnt donut (http://www.burntfoodmuseum.com/exhibits/bagel.htm), Leopard Man (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/leopard-man-changes-his-spots-and-returns-352271), Ear Wax (http://listverse.com/2008/04/13/top-10-most-disgusting-candies-ever/),

My Highly Dysfunctional, Obsessive Compulsive, Neurotic baby is ONE!

So, the Embiggens Project has finally reached it’s first birthday.  I feel bad because I have neglected my first born for the last month as a multitude of other projects have overwhelmed me.  And I feel even badder–I know that ‘s not a word, but it just feels right–that I have been out of touch with my blogging friends.  I think about you often and have been accumulating page after page of e-mail notifications about your posts.  And I will be reading them.  I promise.  The “delete” button and my finger shall never come in contact.

I have learned some really bizarre–and useless–things during my research for the Embiggens Project.  Not only have I grown new dendrites (I hope.  I’m sure the old ones were defective), but I have become quite a great conversationalist at parties.  Although I rarely have time for parties.  In fact, my blog has led to all types of great writing assignments.  Which have led to one hectic life.  Which has led to having no time for fun.  Or blogging.  So, in twelve short months, the Embiggens Project has annihilated my social life.  And, ironically, this blog has led to me having no time to blog.  It would appear that the Embiggens Project has suicidal tendencies.

But, I am determined to get back to my first born and give it the loving that it deserves.  I miss it.  And I miss you.  And I hope to rekindle our friendships.

And as a fitting tribute to my eldest child, I will give you a post from it’s little sibling “Searching for Barry Weiss.”

http://searchingforbarryweiss.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/does-barry-weiss-know-why-pen-lids-have-pointy-things-on-them/

 

Big Hugs and Lots of Love to you all,

Face Like A Frying Pan,  aka FLAFP or “Kim” in the three dimensional world

A one-armed Mickey, a duck with skates, and a kid with a hole in his head

My dad worked for one of Canada’s Big 5 banks, and up until I was around five years old, I believed that his bank was, by far, the best.  So, what earth-shattering event took place at such a young age that could destroy a child’s faith in the high world of finance?  I admit that a grade one student whose entire financial experience resided in a tiny copper piggy bank hadn’t likely developed a understanding of banks at all–they were big building that had lots of money in them.  And one of them had a desk  for my dad.  So, okay–I didn’t exactly have a huge emotional attachment to any institution.   The only objects that I truly trusted were my rubber Avon Snoopy soapdish, my talking Bugs Bunny, and a hand-made British bear  that seemed to suffer from an identity crisis–it “mooed” when I turned it upside down.  Don’t ask.

My Snoopy soapdish looked like this.  And I loved him.

My Snoopy soapdish looked like this. And I loved him.

The day that I learned that my “daddy’s work” sucked began with a giant set of Tinker Toys.  Don’t get me wrong.  Tinker Toys are great.  They are, perhaps, the greatest toy ever created.  And these weren’t just ordinary sticks and connecting wheels.  These were GIANT.  The problem with these particular Tinker Toys was that they had the audacity to show up at the home of my arch nemesis.  Yes, I had one of those.

Seriously, what kid wouldn't want to build their own Flintstone car?

Seriously, what kid wouldn’t want to build their own Flintstone car?

He was a short redhead–much like myself.  You would think we would have been great allies.  But he was a natural sniveler who loved to run to his mother every time one of the other neighbourhood boys gave in to the temptation to punch him in the freckle, push him off the monkey bars, or step on his throat.  And, as the lone girl amongst a gaggle of boys, he often pointed his accusatory (and nose-picking) finger in my direction.

Some kids just seem to scream out "step on my throat."

Some kids just seem to scream out “step on my throat.”

And his mother was an equal opportunity yeller.  She had no problems screaming and waving her manicured finger (which I also suspect spent a great deal of time up her nose) at me too.

Monster kid loved to get other kids in trouble–hence the permanent shoe print on his larynx.  His favourite method of torturing me was to jump on my bed as loudly as he could, wait for my mother to come in and tell us to knock it off, and then point his aforementioned snot-digging digit in my direction and say, “she did it.”  My mom was on to his evil ways, and simply rolled her eyes–at least that’s what my 45-year-old self imagines that she did.  It turns out that the big square lightshade over my bed was tired of this kid–and it was determined to do something about him.

Look at it.  All innocent looking.  But what is it really thinking?

Look at it. All innocent looking. But what is it really thinking?

Shortly after, brat boy was leaping his little heart out–as if he actually had one–soaring higher and higher into the air.  He grinned and let out a maniacal laugh, which must have infuriated my lightshade because the next thing I knew, its corner was stuck in the side of my nemesis’ head.  I was horrified.  And impressed that the kid had actually jumped high enough to hit the light in the first place.  But I was mostly horrified.  I imagine that I quickly scooted my stuffed friends off my bed and away from the wounded kid’s blood–and cooties.

It's damn hard to get blood out of fun fur.

It’s damn hard to get blood out of fun fur.

That is also the day that I learned that people could actually be “sewn” back up.  Freaky.

And, from that moment on, I looked at my lightshade with a new-found respect and awe.  On the one hand, I was thankful for its display of allegiance.  But, I was also leery of ever getting on its bad side.

Humans are like "build your own bears."  They CAN be stitched back together.

Humans are like “build your own bears.” They CAN be stitched back together.

But I must get back to the Tinker Toys.  Yes, it did bother me that this whiny little monster had a set, while I had to be satisfied (which I no longer was) with a regular, 5-year-old hand-sized, wooden set of sticks and connecting wheels.  Yes, I could make cars–but I could NOT sit in them.  This disturbed me to no end. 

The biggest problem with these gigantic Tinker Toys was that they were a gift from his father’s employer–another one of Canada’s big 5 banks.  My father, who I thought was the smartest man in the world, had made the horrifying error of working for the wrong bank.  The one that gave out free pencils with their logo on them.  Big whoop.  And not the one that gave out mammoth-sized children’s toys.

Hm.  Maybe I could have had fun with those damn pencils.

Hm. Maybe I could have had fun with those damn pencils.

So, today I have decided to celebrate some of the best toys–giant and regular sized–that played an important role in my childhood.  And to everyone else who is between the ages of…er…forty and fifty, these may bring back a few memories for you too.

Santa and his "elves" endured a very late Christmas Eve due to "some assembly required" and a whole whack of little stickers.

Santa and his “elves” endured a very late Christmas Eve due to “some assembly required” and a whole whack of little stickers.

My very first hi-fi.  I actually played Humble Pie on this baby.

My very first hi-fi. I actually played Humble Pie on this baby.

My Mickey Mouse tracing desk.  I'm sensing a Mickey theme here.

My Mickey Mouse tracing desk. I’m sensing a Mickey theme here.

I can't believe I actually found my favourite puzzle online!

I can’t believe I actually found my favourite puzzle online!

I know that I've always said I hated dolls.  I should say that I hated non-Barbie like dolls.  Charlie's Angels were cool.

I know that I’ve always said I hated dolls. I should say that I hated non-Barbie like dolls. Charlie’s Angels were cool.

Lite Brite rocked.  Clowns, however, are social deviant freaks.

Lite Brite rocked. Clowns, however, are social deviant freaks.

Loved it when the cars when flying off the tracks.

Loved it when the cars went flying off the tracks.

Yup, I tumbled me some rocks.

Yup, I tumbled me some rocks.

I don't think my mini pinball game had astronauts on it--but it was orange.

I don’t think my mini pinball game had astronauts on it–but it was orange.

Loved to watch the Brady Bunch episode where Cindy and Bobby get lost in the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately, they were found.  Alive.

Loved to watch the Brady Bunch episode where Cindy and Bobby get lost in the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, they were found. Alive.

What were your favourite childhood toys?  And, did you have an arch enemy?  

Photo credits: Giant Tinker Toy <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/alifeinbalance/6580464709/”>A Life in Balance</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>, Brat (http://rantersbox.blogspot.ca/2010/07/excuse-me-your-child-is-freaking-little.html),ceiling light (http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-replace-ugly-rental-cei-46416), bear (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008dk4b/profiles/shop-buildabearPencils ( http://www.hiddeninfrance.typepad.com/hidden_in_france/2007/10/tara-donovans-i.html), Barbie bus (http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=5077528), Mickey Mouse record player (http://disneylandrecords.blogspot.ca/2008/07/mickey-mouse-record-player.html), Mickey Tracing desk (ebay.com), Puzzle (http://gamesmuseum.uwaterloo.ca/VirtualExhibits/disney/),  Charlie’s Angels (http://www.misfittoys.net/wp/blog/2012/02/22/charlies-angels-dolls-vintage-1977-tv-series-stars/ ), Lite Brite (http://4photos.net/en/image:162-77809-Light_Bright_Clown_images), Hot wheels racing track (https://hotwheelsracetracks.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/1970-hot-wheels-sizzlers-newport-pacer-set/#comment-285), rock tumbler (http://rocktumbler.com/blog/smithsonian-rock-tumbler-rolling-stones-rock-tumbler/),