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January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday Cake to You

By Harley

Nancy, for reasons I now forget, suggested that an upbeat blog might be in order. With no football. So I threw out the 5-handkerchief weepie I wrote on the history of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and give you instead:

Birthdays. Well, mine. January 28, in the year of the Fire Monkey.

(My children find this upbeat, as there is cake involved—my youngest thinks the song is “happy birthday cake to you.” My husband finds it upbeat because, for a week and a day, I’ll be three, rather than two years older than he is. His birthday is Superbowl Sunday. Oh. Sorry. Football reference.)

It used to be that January 28th was an innocuous day to be born on. Then, on 1-28-86, I got a call from my Texas sister-in-law, shrieking, “Idn’t it AWful?”

“What, that I’m turning 29?”

“No! Turn on the TV!”

I did, to watch the Challenger explode, over and over. So now January 28 is the Anniversary of the Day the Challenger Exploded, a fact memorable mostly to NASA enthusiasts, people who lost loved ones, and broadcasters looking for filler on a slow news day. And possibly David Weisberg, my friend/birthday buddy, Elijah Wood (the hobbit), Jackson Pollock, and Colette. (FYI, Jackson Pollock and Colette are older than me. Also dead.)

Worst Birthday: the year I decided to treat myself to a movie at noon (noon!) on a weekday (a weekday!) and chose THE REMAINS OF THE DAY (upbeat!), only to be told, at the ticket counter, that there was a scratch on the negative. “Okay, what else is playing?” I asked, and was soon seated, popcorn in hand, watching THE BAD LIEUTENANT. Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, but full frontal nudity with Harvey Keitel at noon in a darkened theater is not . . . a birthday sort of moment.

Best Birthday: Also alone, house-sitting in SoHo, drunk out of my mind (a frequent occurrence that year).  I passed out, and woke the next morning on the floor, with a ringing telephone next to my head. I answered. It was a certain organization (not Scientology), returning my call from the night before.

“But I didn’t call you,” I said.

“Oh? Are there other Harleys there with you?” the voice said.

I looked around. No.

“Let’s say for a minute it was you. Do you have a desire to stop drinking?”

“Uh . . .” profuse sweating on my end of the phone, “ . . . sometimes.”

The guy, whose name turned out to be Joe, told me what to do to get through that day without a drink. And I did it. I did it the next day too. Then I did it for 7,664 days. Today, with luck, will be 7,665.

The last birthday I spent alone was in 2000. I was eight and a half months pregnant. My husband, in England in business (watching Mike Tyson fight), surprised me with a limousine and a ticket to Les Miserables, which had managed to run for several scrillion performances without me seeing it.  I didn’t much like the play (I did like it better than THE BAD LIEUTENANT) and so, at intermission, I went outside, hailed the limo, asked the driver to crank up the heat, and dozed, all the way home, dreaming of my baby. Sublimely happy.

There’s a lot to be said for leaving early, when it comes to things you just know aren’t going to get any better.

But not football. No leaving at halftime. Sorry, Nancy, it had to be said.

Happy Monday!



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Wow! All I can say is that it's good those events weren't combined - that you were 8.5 months pregnant, drunk out of your mind, with Harvey Keitel naked at noon watching Les Miserables and AA ringing you on your cell.
These milestones must be parceled out - to savor.
Hmmm. Wonder what'll happen THIS year!
Happy Birthday!

Well, I know what's gonna happen on Greg's birthday this year. But since we're on a no-football blog--Wait. How did this happen?? I haven't had a drink in years either! When did I say this?? I object! Couldn't have been me! It's all a hoax! IT WASN'T ME!!! AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

GO STEELERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"So now January 28 is the Anniversary of the Day the Challenger Exploded,"

Tell me about it...except my birthday is the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

All those poeple in the streets should be chanting about ME, damn it!

Worse than that -- we got TiVo on Saturday. On Sunday, Husband (from Pittsburgh) TiVo'd the game. Then he got carried away and TiVo'd another dozen hours of stuff, not realizing that it automatically erases Show #1 when it's too full. Ooops. It was a Sad, Sad Night around here last night.

Happy early birthday, Harley. About the Challenger thing, if it's any comfort, my wedding anniversary is April 19--same day as Waco and Oklahoma City. Makes it a little hard to celebrate.

On the positive side, however, here are some good things that happened on your birthday. (Thank you, Wikipedia.):

1887: World's largest reported snowflake fell, in Montana. It measured 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick. (Think they meant world's largest pancake?)

1916: First Jewish Supreme Court Justice appointed (Brandeis)

1973: Barnaby Jones premiered on CBS.

Congrats on the 7,665, and counting...

Oh, Waco and Oklahoma City are lots worse, Ramona. As is 911, of course, and probably Hitler's Birthday too . . . but hey: BARNABY JONES? THat makes up for a multitude of sins!

Harley, thank God, there is someone else out there with doesn't like Les Miz. I would rather shoot myself in the toe and get no sympathy (yes, Charlaine) than have to see that one again. Oh, and the Luby cafeteria shootings in Killeen, TX, happened on one of my b-days. I'll bet everyone knows something fairly rotten that occurred on one of their natal days, even if it's some lesser awfulness.

My former secretary's birthday is September the 11th. On the fateful day, we had bagels for breakfast, because she never liked celebrating it with cake. We still celebrate it low-key, even though I moved on, and she retired.

I was born on Mother's Day, which I think is nice. Plus, it's only Mother's Day once every seven years, on average.

Hmm, hurricanes Andrew and Katrina grace my birthday. EEEK, and I'm thinking of moving to the gulf coast.

If www.scopsys.com is to be believed, here are some other fun things you can celebrate, Harley. And as my "Happy Birthday Cake" wish -- I wish you lots of lovely (or ironic, or twisted, or silly, or, well, whatever) metaphors to be found therein . . .

*1077 Pope Gregory VII pardons German emperor Heinrich IV
*1613 Galileo may have unknowingly viewed undiscovered planet Neptune
*1814 Stendahl's 1st book is published
*1878 1st telephone exchange (New Haven CT)
*1878 Yale Daily News published, 1st college daily newspaper
*1914 Beverly Hills, California, is incorporated
*1928 Christopher Hornsrud chosen PM of Norway at age 101
*1934 1st US ski tow (rope) begins operation (Woodstock VT)
*1951 "La Vie Commence Demain", which depicted artificial insemination & is the 1st X-rated movie, opened in London
*1969 Barbara Jo Rubin becomes 1st woman jockey to win in North America
*1978 "Fantasy Island" starring Ricardo Montalban premieres on ABC TV
*1990 Super Bowl XXIV San Francisco 49ers beat Denver Broncos, 55-10 in New Orleans; Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana, San Francisco, Quarterback (Oooops -- how did that sneak in there?)

I personally favor the Galileo thing -- there's something delicious about "may have unknowingly viewed" something that no on knew was there . . .

Happy cake to you!

Oh, no, Kerry, it's hard to beat "Barnaby Jones" but if anything can do it, it's "Fantasy Island" -- wow. I had no idea.
Susan, Thank God. Saying Les Miz left me cold had people look at me like I'm someone who drowns cats. But I'm sorry. The music's fine, as long as you can do something else, like type, while you listen.

Here's a site that will tell you (earworm alert!) what song was #1 the day you were born:

I got 'You Light Up My Life' by Debbie Boone.

And we all celebrate Harley Gras! Full frontal nudity, beads, parades...

It's funny. I remember Challenger, but I couldn't have told you what day it was or even what month it was.

I have a friend whose birthday is 9-11.

As for me, I can't think of anything bad that has happened in my lifetime on my birthday. Yet.


PS. Yesterday was a co-workers 80th birthday. Shocked me when I found out. I thought he was early 70's.


"So now January 28 is the Anniversary of the Day the Challenger Exploded,"

I also feel your pain, I was born on August 31st, the day Princess Di died.

Gosh. Nothing exciting happened on Dec. 17, the birthday my husband and I share. Except that when he was born in 1958 The Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks was the #1 hit.

Eeeek, I hate the Chipmunks! That is enough of a disaster to qualify, Sarah. Poor Charlie.

Okay, that is an EVIL LINK. The #1 hit song when I was born was "SINGING THE BLUES" by Guy Mitchell. Yes, that would be my mother, having me without drugs (but with noise, I'm sure; she was a mezzo soprano) and without my dad ("oh, that's how we all did it in those days; he'd drop me off at the hospital and pick me up after the birth")
Then, they suggest you find your Life Theme song, which is the #1 hit on your 18th birthday. I got "Laughter in the Rain" by Neil Sedaka.
Anyone want to go to Les Miserables with me?

I'm right there with ya, harley. My "life song" is Lady by Kenny Rogers - a song I truly hate.
But Charlie's is Tonight's the Night by Rod Stewart which thrilled me to no end when I was a curious - and yes, virginal - 14.
Have you tried the British version. Much better selection.

"Lady" by Kenny Rogers? Oh, Sarah, that just explains so much. Okay, I need Nancy and Susan to look up their Life Theme songs. Maybe we can add music to the blog, our four songs alternating as people write their comments.

Ours is "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights," by Meatloaf (again), and "Your Wildest Dreams," by the Moody Blues. Further disclosure may cause me to sleep in the guest room. For a long time.

No. 1 my birthday was "Soldier Boy," by the Shirelles.

Here's something that happened on December 17: http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/17/japan.cartoon/

Thanks for that, Josh. You are always so complimentary. By the way, I had a wild dream about you last night in which you treated me to a big night on the town with no expense spared. Then, when I wouldn't put out, you handed me a handwritten bill and told me you accepted checks but that there was a 1 percent fee for any payment overdue by 30 days.
you're such a gentleman.

On the day I was born, "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John was number one. I don't think I've ever heard of that song.

My life song is "Informer" by Snow. Again, never heard of it.

Maybe I need to stop reading and get out more.


Did I mention that I would forgive the interest if you put out? Oh, wait, that's why you have to pay. No such thing as a free lunch.

You should have read the small print. We're both married to lawyers, you know.

Mark! Are you SERIOUS?!?!?
You have never ever heard the song "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivian N-J?
You haven't lived. If I were there in person, I'd sing it to you in a breathy voice, soaring into a canary-like soprano on the word "inside," which went on for about 5 minutes and 17 syllables.
Please. Please. Run out and find it. You will never get it out of your head.

On the other hand, 'Informer' is an early white-guy-rapper song, from before Eminem made it okay. You really don't want me to try and sing it to you.

My life song is 'Fantasy' by Mariah Carey. My ears are bleeding just thinking about it.

I LOVE the idea of celebrating Harley Gras. That it's a celebration of your sobriety is absolutely a reason to celebrate. As long as it doesn't involve Harvey Keitel, I think we have a plan here.

I don't know if it helps but you DO NOT share a birthday (1/30) with Dick Cheney, which would cheer ME up.

Alan Alda? And how about Ernie - yes, as in "Bert & Ernie"? What, you thought that Muppets didn't have birthdays?

And er, um, well it's National Kazoo Day. That's got to be worth celebrating.

Oh and January 21-28 is "Celebrity Read a Book Week". For what that's worth.

I love cake. I think everyone loves cake. In fact, the way I got my last undergrad class interested in the whole Valerie Plame/Scooter Libby scandal was to hook them with the thought of yellow cake.

Great post Harley and good for you. I have a friend who is working on day 355 without H and is having a tough one. It really is an every day thing.

Now - the cool birthday song site:

"My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own" by Connie Francis - huh?

Life song is "Kiss You All Over" by Exile. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Finally - and this is only final because of the no-****ball rule today,

"Paradise By the Dashboard Light" is one of the best songs ever written. I know all the words - just ask the people who were at Sing Sing last Friday. Even the baseball stuff. If you're alive today, you need to know this song. It's the anthem of youth. It's the anthem of good decisions in the face of temptation. It's a lesson for us all. Choices have consequences. Even - and especially, those made in dark cars. Meatloaf is a genius. Plus, when all the aunts and uncles dance to it at weddings, it's totally hysterical.

Hey, Kathy. I too am waiting for the end of time so I can end my time with....

What is H? Heroin? Harmonicas? And is the Pittsburgh Steeler logo the same as US Steel?

Since you mentioned Hitler, my nephew was born on April 14th which is Hitler's birthday as well as the day the Titanic sunk.

On my birthday (March 20), Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 and in 1995, was the Sarin gas attack in Tokyo.

My life song is Dizzy by Tommy Roe - which also may explain things.

Sending early birthday hugs to Harley.

Happy pre-birthday and congrats on day 7665. You ROCK!!!!

My birthday song is "Walk Like a Man." Could be worse, could be "Big Girls Don't Cry." (Or Leslie Gore, for that matter.)

"Cherie Baby," oddly enough, I would be totally down with.


The Steeler logo is based on the original trade symbol for steel. The symbol was also used by U.S. Steel, now USX. Local lore (which is to say an uncle, who worked in the Steel Mills all of his life) holds that the red is for the fire in the mills, the blue is for the water used to cool it, and the yellow is the color of the burnished steel before it cools. It is, of course, the coolest NFL logo.

Plus, the Steelers have no cheerleaders. OOps - sorry - that was non-solicted ****ball stuff.

H is for heroin. I used to think the stuff was only used by hard core street addicts. Not so. In fact, my magistrate friends (a magistrate is a local judge) tell me it is the biggest problem in suburban schools today. Apparently it's cheap.

See, if the government would only legalize pot, then the kids wouldn't be going for the cheap H. I think I'll bring that up the next time Senator Santorum is in town. Heh.

i despise ****ball but I have to say the Steelers get points. NO cheerleaders? Halledamnlujah!!
I understand my city's team won something yesterday. Ask me if I care.
Now let's talk important sports - FIGURE SKATING!!
Tiddly-winks? (there was an article about same in the local paper just a day or so ago.)

Yes, I think Rick Santorum will certainly go for that argument. He's a Stiller, after all.
Andi, thanks for that National Kazoo Day.
And Margery, you've just redeemed March 20. It's the day my father died, in 1958, so we always had to go to church on that day. Has always had a big GLOOM spot on it, for the Kozaks. Now, however, we'll go to church, light a candle for Joe Kozak, make a wish, then blow it out for Margery!

Harley, in addition to Kazoo Day, it’s also Rattle Snake Round up Day, and Clash Day.

Oh, dear. B-day song is "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes; Life Theme song is "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover." I'm not sure I want to contemplate the message there.

Apropos of the lack of the Steelers' lack of cheerleaders -- when my Mom was in high school she was a majorette (baton and all -- the pictures are amazing). Her New Kensington High School marching band used to do halftime shows for the Steelers. Of course, Mom being Mom, she mostly talked about that when we kids complained about it being too cold to walk to school (in the Bay Area of California) . . .

The Bay Area IS colder than Pennsylvania. Everyone knows that.

Andi - are you from Seattle?

I was going to ask what we get to do to Daisy for that addictive website but then I read her post again. Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" is punishment enough (esp. when you know that she claims it's about god, not a lover.)

I totally resent being too OLD for them to register a song on the day I was born and i have NO idea what the Brit song was (Guy Mitchell?) but my life song. Could be worse. I'm not sure what this means that it's "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison. I went for the one when I turned 21? I'll stay with My Sweet Lord. My partner Stu's life song? "Let's Stay Together" Al Green. Awwwwwwwwwwwww. (totally addictive. Damn.)

Kathy - can't you tell by the coffee breath, the down vest, the nerd glasses, and the frizzy hair? Yes, I'm a Seattlite.


The next time I see you at a book signing, I expect to hear your version of that song.


Andi - I was afraid of that.

If I were you, I don't think I'd pay attention to the Seahawks either - they have, perhaps, the worst name for thier cheerleaders - the Sea Gals. Like Seagulls, get it? It's awful.

Mark, a couple of us Kindergarten Moms serving hot lunch today started singing it ("Have You Never Been Mellow?") and it put the primary school kids off their feed.

Harley, next time try "Let's Get Physical" and see if we can actually send 'em racing for the little potty room.....oh, that's NOT what she meant?

Happy birthday Harley, you were mentioning your best and your worst, and I was thinking that I hope you can wish everyone that each of their birthdays will be their best so far, and then I thought well, why not?
So you are the first I try this on. I wish you that this birthday will be better than the formers, and that it would be followed with a good year to match:)

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