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31 posts from October 2009

October 31, 2009

Why Men Talk Backwards and Other Mysteries

TLC welcomes, as our Halloween offering, the wonderful Mark Arsenault. Mark is a Shamus-Sortofstanding nominated mystery writer, a journalist, a runner, hiker, political junkie and eBay fanatic who collects memorabilia from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. His new novel is LOOT THE MOON, the second book in the Billy Povich series that began with GRAVEWRITER, a noir thriller praised for a fusion of suspense, humor and human tenderness. With 20 years of experience as a print reporter, Arsenault is one of those weird cranks who still prefers to read the news on paper. His Web site is: www.markarsenault.net

    Why Men Talk Backwards and Other Mysteries

    The younger of my two brothers called me from his car a few years ago and said in a hollow voice, “I’ve just been diagnosed with testicular cancer.”

The words clamped like a giant hand around my neck and squeezed. Cancer had ravaged our family for 40 years.

I had two seconds to come up with a reply, and I knew that whatever I said would set the tone for how we dealt with this news.

Using my driest voice, I deadpanned: Well, Ryan, it takes a lot of testicular fortitude to admit something like that.

My actual verbiage may have been a little less polite.

It was the rudest and most inappropriate thing in the world to say at that moment, and that was the point.

He said nothing for a second.

Then we both laughed.

Over the next few days, through a hastily scheduled surgery, the three Arsenault brothers proved Mark Twain’s observation that nothing can withstand the assault of laughter. Not even cancer.

We got Ryan through his operation with more crude testicle jokes than a busload of teenaged boys could invent in a month. We fought back, one guffaw at a time, and the disease could never catch its breath. The jokes worked for us. (When I was alone I also experimented with screaming in despair into a towel, but I preferred the jokes.)

Which gets to the point of how men talk, and why it’s difficult to make men sound natural in fictional dialogue.

The one thing I didn’t tell Ryan was: “Don’t worry, I’ll be there for you.”

There’d be nothing wrong with saying that. I might say that exact thing to a casual friend or a work acquaintance. But it would never occur to me to tell a close buddy or a brother, “I’ll be there for you.”

Why? Because men speak emotional language to each other in inverse proportion to how close they are.

Men talk backwards.

Lootthemooncover In my new novel, Loot the Moon, protagonist Billy Povich, an obituary writer, speaks with his close friend Martin about the murder of Martin’s mentor, a respected judge named Gil Harmony. To comfort his wounded friend, Billy’s first instinct is to gently tease Martin about his age:

“You know that a friend of mine is dead.” Martin stroked his beard, discovered crumbs in the whiskers, frowned and brushed them away. “Judge Harmony was my first law partner, back when I passed the bar.”

“I thought Abe Lincoln was your first law partner.” He gave Martin a sad smile.

“He came later. My original mentor was Gil Harmony.”

    “I wrote his obituary for the paper,” Billy said.

    “It was beautiful, so I figured it was you who did it. Did you do the obit for the kid who slaughtered him?”

Is Billy’s response appropriate? Out of context, certainly not. But in context, speaking backwards as men do, he reveals the closeness of their relationship.

Not to give away too much, but Billy agrees in that scene to investigate who ordered the hit on the judge.

And now several years after his operation, my brother—who has since become a father—is in perfect health. We still tease him about losing a testicle.

October 30, 2009

Ode to a Shower

Ode to a Shower

by Nancy    Go to fullsize image

After two and a half weeks of post-surgical sponge baths, I was finally given the greenlight to take a shower.

Or, as I like to think of it, a trip to heaven.

Amazing how you miss the pleasure of warm water, fragrant soap, humming a little tune, maybe whipping out the razor to clean up a few unsightlies--when you're forbidden to take a shower.  But the doc removed the staples in my back and said I was ready.  I nearly knocked over my 80-year-old mother to get to the bathroom. The rush of hot water revived me, body and soul. 

If environmentalists declare we must all limit ourselves to 3-minute showers, I may have to move to Canada.  There's nothing like a long, hot shower to make a girl feel wonderful, and sometimes three minutes just doesn't cut it.

I understand completely why the Romans built those beautiful baths wherever they went.  (Have you ever been to Bath?  Put it on your list of places to visit before you need a walker, okay?) Imagine soaking away a day of slaying barbarians in a nice hot pool, surrounded by beautiful mosaic tile and sipping some looted Gallic wine, maybe served by a naked slave named Julius. I just can't figure out why the British waved good-bye to Caesar's legions, promptly built houses on top of those Roman baths and forgot about them.

Long ago, I used to write historical romances.  When you write books like that, you tend to focus on the carnal pleasures and go light on the historical detail.  Like, how many historical romances get into the subject of peeing?  Very few. It ain't romantic. Sometimes you'll read a romance in which the panting couple takes a bath together before the main event, but that wouldn't have been terribly accurate, would it?  Back in the day, bathing was considered unhealthy--even deadly.  I read books about Elizabeth I and marvel at her courage and forward-thinking, but really, how could she stand smelling herself? And those cowpokes who only bathed on Saturday night?  Did they smell like their horses? Because after 2 weeks of sponge baths, I know the neighbor's dog was a lot more interested in me than usual.

Me, I take a daily shower without thinking twice about it. Nothing fancy. My daughter, though, loves scented gels and loofahs, and she keeps a lot of paraphernalia in her shower to suit her moods when they strike. What about you?  Have a favorite bath product? I'm strictly an Irish Spring girl myself, and I tend to use whatever shampoo is on sale. But now that I have a new appreciation for the shower, I'm willing to be open-minded.  Tell me about your favorites.

I once stayed in a house with a shower that had 8 different heads.  Water squirted from all kinds of places.  We called it "the sensuous shower," but mostly it just tickled.  (There was a time when my significant other and I showered together, but that hasn't happened in a long time. Maybe we should revive that practice. You?) I don't think I'd invest in a sensuous shower today.  Not sure it increases the value of a house.

While on leave from TLC and unable to spend my time showering, I watched hours and hours and hours of HGTV. I can now pretty much figure what a house is worth depending on it's amenities like bathrooms and granite countertops and even paint choices.  (Also, I learned to match the color of your new curtains to the color of your wall paint to make the room appear larger.  I think you'd love the new curtains in my living room--ordered from Penney's.  They're silk, lined for warmth, and a bargain, too.) A fancy shower is a good investment, but it seems everybody wants a big soaking tub these days.  We had one in our last house and used it a grand total of 3 times in one year.  I'm not divulging details, so don't ask.

Anyway, during my recovery I also managed to spend some time helping to put the finishing touches on my new website.  (Designed by no less a talent that TLC's beloved Hollygee! Check out her website here.)  Take a look at my new one.  Snoop around.  We're introducing my new series with this site, and there's a lot to learn about Roxy Abruzzo. Go here. 

Meanwhile, I might excuse myself for a few minutes and take another shower.  Blissful. Just don't try picturing me naked.  My surgical scar is a whopper.



For your pre-Halloween pleasure, check the video. Which is better?

October 29, 2009

Cousin Rosie Confesses. Sort of.

Cousin Rosie Confesses.  Sort of. 

    Bless me, Margie, for I have sinned.

    Let me just start by saying that I didn’t kill Sister Marilyn, no matter what you might have heard down at the convent.  Not that any of you Mancinis have been hanging out with the nuns (God knows), but still, people talk.  Like the Sunday morning at church when Mrs. Ricci from down the street told old Mrs. LaQuatra that she heard from Mrs. DeLuca, who heard from Mrs. Giordano, that Mrs. LaQuatra’s daughter, Angela, looked like she was having a good time the night before in the last row of the movie theatre with that Nicky Socio boy, and before you could say “Agnus Dei” Angela got shipped off to the convent…

    Oh, wait.

    Right, so anyway, like I was saying.  Sister Marilyn.  I was just over at the rectory having dinner with Father Carm, who is a total Father What-a-Waste, by the way, and we were watching The Thorn Birds, when Sister Marilyn came running over to get Father Carm to break up a fight down at the Bingo game in the Church basement between Joey Romano and Joey Gallo.  She was so worked up about Joey Gallo throwing Mrs. Costa’s rum cake in Joey Romano’s face that before you could say “Drogheda” she just had a stroke and dropped dead right there.  There was nothing any of us could have done.  Honestly.   I’m pretty sure it was Sister Lucy who started the rumor about Sister Marilyn dropping dead from the shock of seeing something going on between me and Father Carm.  Sister Lucy is such a tattle-tale.  Father Carm said it was my own fault for not hiding the jug of communion wine before the cavalry arrived.

    So, now that I’m “out”, this fallen nun thing kinda has its ups and downs.  Mama doesn’t stop with the rosary of course – I thought it was bad when I was a fallen woman going into the convent, it’s 100 times worse being a fallen nun getting thrown out of one.   Some people have been nice, like that nice Steve, the UPS guy you introduced me to, who has been giving me great herbs for my marinara sauce every day, but some people have just been trying to take advantage of a fallen nun.  Like, how you and Cousin Rita have been trying to get me to e-date.  So far every single one of the men have written to me that their favorite book is The DaVinci Code.  Now, I may have been in a convent for ten years, (and without HBO as you like to say), but even I can see through that one.  

    But the best part of being out is that last week down at the deli I ran into little Anthony Marino who was in my class at St. Theresa’s and let me tell you, he’s not so little anymore.  You remember Anthony, right?   Mama might have told you about him.  He was the one who used to pull my pigtails all the time and he was the one who snuck into my locker during swimming class in third grade and stole my underpants and so I had to go back to class wearing a pair of gym shorts from the lost-and-found under my uniform and everyone knew I didn’t have any underwear on and I was so embarrassed.   You probably wouldn’t have been embarrassed by it though.  You and Rita were fast even back in the third grade.

    Oh, right, well, anyway, I was getting some capicolla and Anthony was getting some sopressata and then we both went over to the cheese counter and before you could say “fontinella,” I had a date.

    So, last night, we went out.  We went to my favorite restaurant, Alexander’s, we had peppers and sausage and fried ravioli and a great bottle of Chianti - it’s really so much better than communion wine.   It turns out that Anthony was in the seminary for a while, but he left before taking his final vows because it wasn’t for him.  After dinner, we took a little walk, and we ended up back at the Book Tart office… Rita told me where the key was hidden last week and  I didn’t think the authors would mind.

    There is one tiny little thing though, Margie.  

    I hope you get to work early today, like before any of the authors do.

    I seem to be missing my underpants again.


Thanks for being nice to my cousins.  Not that you would be in, like, any danger if you weren't just because my other cousins are checking up on things.  Just saying. Miz Nancy is back on her feet and will blog here tomorrow since Miz Kathy is sick.  Everybody has an excuse around here for missing tons of work, but if I happen to take a long brunch or something, it's like a catastrophe with these women.  Stay tuned for more from the Mancini Family in future blogs!



October 28, 2009

Living in a Haunted House

By Elaine Viets

Lightning flashed across the windows. A demented wind shrieked and tore at the old brick walls. Then the door began to close.Haunted house

Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

The heavy wooden pocket door slid out of the walls by itself and shut Don and me into our bedroom.

Don got out of bed and checked for an intruder. Nothing was there.

It was our first night in our 70-year-old apartment. I was shivering with fright. Also, with the blasts of cold air coming in from the windows and doors.

We didn’t know it, but we’d moved into the haunted house of Utah Place. Don and I had rented the top two floors of an old two-family flat in South St. Louis. The absentee owner had let the house rot while collecting the rent.

The woman who lived downstairs handled our rental. When Mrs. Fulton told the owner her bedroom’s plaster wall was crumbling, he said, "Can’t you move your dresser to cover it?"

I was a new bride from the burbs, too dumb to understand the mysteries of plaster, insulation, plumbing and wiring. But I loved the apartment’s stained-glass windows, mahogany fireplace and high ceilings. The place had a piano room (we had no piano) and a parson’s seat (no parson ever sat on it.)

The owner gave us $400 for repairs, then graciously allowed us to pay thousands for the rest of the rehab. Mrs. Fulton patiently endured construction noise and dust. Once, she politely asked that I not vacuum the floor at three a.m.

A few months after we moved in, Mrs. Fulton wanted to talk to us. She looked worried.

"Have you noticed anything funny about the apartment?" she asked. "Any odd noises?"

We told her the loose windows rattled in the wind, the doors slammed shut and the floors creaked. But those were old house noises.

"You didn’t see anything on the staircase?" Mrs. Fulton asked.Stairs

"Just dust," I said.

"Thank goodness," she said. "The family who lived here before you said the place was haunted. They saw a woman in black on the staircase. She was supposed to be the mother of the owner, and she died of a fall on those stairs. They heard footsteps in the locked attic.

"The family moved because of the ghosts. The whole neighborhood knew. Some girls from Cleveland High School showed up here, wanting to hold a seance. I sent them away.

"I felt guilty renting a haunted house, so I went to the priest. I asked Father if he’d do an exorcism. He said to wait. If you saw anything strange, Father would bless the apartment."

We tried to see a ghost. We wandered the place at weird hours. Nothing appeared. But we did hear thuds and footsteps in the attic. We ran upstairs and found the cat chasing a squirrel.

People continued to claim our apartment was haunted. Repairmen said the third-floor bedroom was "spooky." A guest who spent the night there said he "felt something reading over his shoulder."

Our ghost was rude, as well as shy.Ghost

We lived in the apartment for more than 20 years. Mrs. Fulton bought the place, then sold it to us when she moved.

Don and I never saw the Lady in Black, no matter how hard we tried.

A psychic friend said the house had a "presence," but she thought the construction repairs had scared it away – or the cat.

I believe my mother-in-law got rid of the ghost. Mrs. Crinklaw bought us storm windows. They killed the monster heating bills. They also stopped the wind screaming through the windows.

That’s when the door quit sliding open and closed on its own.

October 27, 2009

Kids and Why We Need to Keep Them Scared

By Sarah

I have a friend  who has a hair across her ass about early Thirtysomethings. She's my age - which is to say late 40s - and her beef is that those between, say, 28 and 34, are overly confident and too certain of their own opinions. Also, smug and self centered with a disturbing inability to poke fun at themselves.

Thirtysomething I'm not sure this is a blanket we can throw on that whole generation (Z?). After all, there was that kind of obnoxious show, er, Thirtysomething, back in the 80s and I remember those people as being smug, self-righteous and unable to laugh at themselves. So perhaps it's the age. Maybe when you start having kids and buying your own home, the burdens of the world come crashing down and suddenly you feel like you're the first person ever shoved into DEFCON 4 adulthood.

Or perhaps this half generation below me wasn't scared enough as kids. Here's my logic:

Those born in the late 70s are likely the products of couples who met in the 1960s, the peaceniks and hippies who, come to think of it, were kind of self-righteous themselves. It was okay when they were just doing their own thing, dancing in the mud at Woodstock and smoking a little dope, but when they had kids, that's when we all had to suffer.

Natural childbirth, endless breast feeding, cloth diapers, home-mushed baby food, the return of Montessori and Suzuki and magical childhoods - these people made parenthood suck. Also, having rebelled against their parents' capitalistic values - and, yet, funny enough, riding the boom of the 80s to become richer than any previous generation - they rejected the one true advantage parents have over kids: fear.

I'm referring to the threat of the bogeyman who, back in the day, was Jack of all Evil, the stand in for you parents who were too busy with your younger brothers and sisters to keep your sorry butt in line. TheBogeyman  bogeyman would get you if you lied or if you stole gum from the store. He would find you creeping around the house at night looking for candy or get you if you didn't come home by dinner.

When the bogeyman was off for some much needed R&R, there were medical myths to keep you hopping. Crossing of the eyes? Permanent screwed up eyeballs. Cracking your knuckles? Huge joints. Sitting too close to the television in the dark? Radiation poisoning. Eating raw cookie dough? Worms. And let's just discuss that for a second.

If you got worms from eating raw cookie dough, did that mean you were eating baked baby worms or worm eggs/larvae when you consumed the final product? Just asking. Fortunately, salmonella appeared on the scene to lend some credibility behind slapping my children's fingers as they reached into the bowl. Which brings me to my unabashed use of legitimate fear.

As a new mother of a little girl, it seemed that every headline carried news of a fresh child molester on the prowl for my kid. My daughter was two when Polly Klaas was kidnapped from her Petaluma, California, bedroom during a sleepover and killed. That was enough to do me in for years. Having been raised on fear, I panicked that someone would surely get Anna if she walked the two blocks to school or rode her bike to her friend's house. Limits were set and, admittedly, I scared her to bits. And I wasn't so wrong. 

Shortly after moving into our quiet neighborhood here in Vermont, we learned that the next door neighbor, a teenage boy, was molesting several children in the area. The community wanted to let him stay since he was a "kid himself." A kid who'd been charged with 45 very adult counts of sexual abuse, ahem. But my husband, Charlie, a no nonsense kind of guy, had no truck with that. After confronting this "kid's" mother and getting her to admit that she knew her son had these proclivities and yet she STILL let him babysit, Charlie called the probation officer and demanded a relocation of said family. It was done within weeks.

Political correctness has no place when it comes to this shit. End of discussion. Period. 

Scaring your kids about predators is necessary. Kids need to learn how to scream their heads off even Lost puppy when it seems silly. They need to know that just because a car slows down and the guy seems nice when he asks for directions does not mean you should go anywhere near him, even if you can't hear a word unless you get closer. Lost puppies adults can find themselves. No kids needed. I taught my kids that, over and over.

Unfortunately, this fear advantage only goes so far. By the time my daughter reached her teens - thanks to me scaring her about child molesters and black ice on the road - she was too old to buy the story about "the claw." Damn. Though I think I did a pretty good job when it came to unwanted pregnancy.

According to my parents point of view, the best thing about scaring kids is that it knocks them down a peg, though that's not to say they believed all fear was good. Fear of the government, tear of asking the wrong question or speaking up in public thereby facing ridicule - just plain stupid. Even harmful. 

But don't go around thinking you know all the answers just because everyone's told you you're precious, darling. Because there are things out there,kiddo, you don't even know about that could get you when you least expect it. That was their thinking. 

Also, let's face it. Scaring kids is fun.

So this Halloween I say scare them before they scare you. After all, it's only a matter of time before they got us trapped in wheelchairs. Might as well use our advantage while we can.


October 26, 2009

Is The Nation Betting That Palin Fans Can't Spell? Going Rogue versus Going Rouge

On November 17, you may find yourself doing a double-take in the bookstore.

That's the day that Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue goes on sale.  It's also the date that a compilation of essays written by Palin critics comes out -- complete with a cover that is a parody of Palin's autobiography.  Despite the cheeky cover, Going Rouge is apparently a serious look at Palin's policy and record, as well as what she means for American politics.

"Going Rouge" is being published by OR Books, edited by The Nation's Richard Kim and Betsy Reed.  This is OR Books' first publication, and they're certainly making their debut with a splash.

Here's what the publisher's website says about Going Rouge:

The most honest, revealing account of the Palin story to appear this fall? You betcha!

Sarah Palin has many faces: hockey mom, fundamentalist Christian, sex symbol, Republican ideologue, fashion icon, "maverick" populist. But, above all, Palin has become one thing: an American obsession that just won't go away

As a former advertising creative, I think the parody is BRILLIANT.  I laughed out loud when I saw it for the first time, and marveled at the cleverness of the concept.  The play on words.  The thunder clouds, complete with ominous lightning strike.  The matchy-matchy photos, with dueling American flag pins.

As an author, however, it makes me feel a bit queasy. I'd hate it, HATE IT, if someone decided to rip off my book cover and title, raining on my publication day with their own tricked out version of MY BOOK.

Is this legal?  You betcha.

(Well, probably.)  I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not exactly an authority on this. (Duh.)  But here's how I understand it:

First, book titles can't be copyrighted.  (Try typing "Smoke" or "Revelation" in Amazon and see how many results you get.)

Second, parody is protected.  Just ask Weird Al.

So let's agree just for argument's sake that Going Rouge is legal.

Is it fair?


October 25, 2009

What's the purpose of eyebrows?

Lisa Daily

"Why do we have eyebrows?"

My daughter asked me this question today as we drove around in our car, running birthday errands.  My initial thought was that they must protect our eyes from dirt or something, but it occurred to me that they're sort of high up on the face to do any real good...

Maybe their purpose is to aid in communication.  A raised eyebrow can be flirtatious, and aid in the process of speeding along procreation and the continuation of the species.  (Not a theory I'd be willing to share with a six-year old, of course.)

Her opinion was that eyebrows' main function was to "go up and down, to make people laugh"  a la Daddy.

Maybe they're there to act as a sort of over-the-eye sponges, soaking up sweat or rain and keeping moisture from running into your eyes as you're sprinting away from a predator.  My husband agrees, but thinks that they're a sort of leftover from a furrier, Cro-Magnum-style forehead. 

Or maybe, eyebrows are an indicator of health. 

When my thyroid first went kaput, it was not the weight gain or the lack of sleep or the feeling lethargic at 3 pm that had me frantically calling doctors or trolling the Internet for information.  It was the fact that my eyebrows were falling out.

What's your thought on the matter?


October 24, 2009

Old Guys Screwing Around. The Brooke Hundley and Steve Phillips Affair /Sex Scandal

Old Guys Screwing Around

Lisa Daily

I was not particularly interested in ESPN Analyst Steve Phillips' affair with a 22-year old production assistant named Brooke Hundley. I rarely, if ever, watch ESPN.  I feel terrible for what his wife and family must be going through, but I don't know any of the parties involved.  And while another married, middle-aged guy sleeping with a 20-something old is pretty pathetic in my view, it doesn't exactly make for exciting news.

But then, a friend of mine sent me a link to Brooke Hundley's letter to Steve Phillips' wife.

This put me over the edge. 


Because it is jam-packed with all the lies, crap and bullshit that married men in particular tell the women they are attempting to seduce.  I know this because a lot of women write to me about their dating and relationships problems and I've found that I keep hearing the same things over and over again.  Like there's a Midlife Crisis Affair Handbook or something.  

Page 53.  What To Tell Your Mistress About Why You Can't Leave Your Wife

The Kids Are Keeping You In Your Marriage

Gol-durn-it, you'd leave in a second if you'd allow yourself to be happy, but you just couldn't bear the thought of losing your kids.  (The same kids you're not seeing during all the times you're shacked up in a hotel room with your mistress, but whatever.)

Your Wife is Making You Go to Therapy Even Though You've Told Her It Won't Work

This is especially effective as painting you as a dedicated husband WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY MAKING IT CLEAR THAT YOU ARE  a man who has already moved on emotionally because of the specialness of your relationship with your mistress.

You Have A Loveless Marriage

You haven't slept together for years.  She's cold, unfeeling, and she just doesn't understand you.  This strategy allows you to remain married while you assure your girlfriend that you'd never cheat on her.

She (Mistress) Makes You Feel Better/Younger/Etc Than You've Ever Felt Before

If only you'd met her ten years ago! 

After My Wife Recovers From Bulimia/Grad School/Redecorating the Den We'll Be Together

Brook is clearly suffering from some issues, here.  But clearly, she fell face first in the load of crap that Mr. ESPN was dishing up. 

And please don't think that I'm letting Brooke off the hook.  She is an adult, albeit a young one, and should know better than to sleep with a married man.  (Brooke -- if you don't, please email me and I'll be happy to set you straight.)  It is also not my intention to go easy on women who cheat on their husbands -- I'm sure they have their own affair playbook.

If you are married, sleeping with other people is wrong.  It's selfish, unfair, and cruel to your spouse.  It's selfish, cruel, and unfair to the person you're sleeping with.

I have heard a number of people say that if a woman sleeps with a married man, she deserves what she gets.

Does she?

And what about Mr. Phillips.  It would seem that he's painting himself as a sort of a victim of a fatal attraction, even though he did admit he'd slept with Brooke three times in a statement obtained by the New York Post.

Is poor Steve the victim in all this? 

Or maybe that's just what he's telling his wife.


October 23, 2009

H1N1 Bullshit

H1N1 Bullshit

By Kathy Sweeney, reeling from H1N1 Bullshit

Blog masks Pay no attention to the man behind the microphone.  Or the woman on TV.  Or the "statistics" from the CDC. The truth is out there, and I found it.   

My house is, as some nice people with lovely intentions put it: A Petri Dish.  Earlier this month, I was diagnosed with Mono.  Last week our daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia.  This week, our son was diagnosed with H1N1.  But wait.  The first two were actual diagnoses - conducted via a physical check by a doctor, as well as blood tests and various swab cultures.  

H1N1?  It's more like a slot machine.  If you have the right combination of symptoms, you get the jackpot.  No tests are 'necessary' because, and I quote "the course of treatment is the same."  When I pushed the Doc (not my regular Doc and believe me when I tell you we'll never see her again) she explained that the insurance companies didn't want them ordering unnecessary tests.  Ex-cuse me, but WTF?

Isn't this a lead story on every newscast?  This international pandemic?  I'm no infectious disease expert, but there is no way in hell they know how many cases are out there if they are NOT DOING THE TESTS!

Plus, and once again, I am no immunologist, but if you have this flu, doesn't that mean you don't need the vaccine which is now at critical shortages due to 'manufacturing problems'?  I don't even know what that means. Did someone spit in the serum?  Did the power go out and it went 'bad', like milk when your fridge goes on the fritz?  

In addition, I am not a pharmacist (that may change if I can find an online degree) but isn't Tamiflu in short supply as well?  Another mystery from the people who bring you 700 ways to stop or start going to the bathroom and/or getting an erection.  How do they know who should really have this magical medicine?  

Remember - just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they are NOT, indeed, out to fool you.

In our case, there was only one possible outcome.  I mean, I saw that 60 Minutes thing with the healthy teenage football player in the coma.  Sick or not, there is no fiercer advocate than a Mama Bear if she thinks her cub is in danger.  Never mind that said cub is now ten inches taller.  In fact - and you can consider this a public service message:  they had better get a real handle on this thing, or you are going to be having Moms and Tanks at CVS at dawn.

I explained to the Doctor that I was making the test "necessary" if she wanted me to leave the office without incident.  I may not have used those words. I even volunteered to go out into the office and find someone else to do the swab.  I may have said this in a way that indicated such a move would be less than helpful.  She did the test.

Blog Shirley MacLaineGood thing, too, because I'm sick already and I was about 30 seconds from a Full-Out Shirley MacLaine in "Terms of Endearment." 

Naturally, I started ranting to everyone who had the misfortune to call me.  Turns out - MOST places aren't bothering to do the tests.  Talk about the inmates running the institution!  

I did some more digging and this is not an isolated incident.  Schools, docs, clinics - they are simply not ordering the tests.  Which means we have no way of knowing IF the cases are actually H1N1.  There are apparently several flu strands out there now.  Some of which are contagious within as little as a TEN FOOT RADIUS.  That means if you leave your house, you've been exposed.  And it also means that every stat you hear is either understated or overstated by a statistically significant margin, rendering the data worthless.

Finally, if you are relying on the FDA, you might as well step in front of a bus.  I've had direct dealings with these people and most of them are either on Big Pharm payrolls as 'consultants' or have no real medical background, at least in connection with the product their review panel is supposed to be judging.  I've been calling it the CFA for years, and for good reason.

I have to stop now before this turns into a rant.  I'm passing the baton to you, TLC - anyone know what the hell is going on here?!

And, because we need a laugh, here is a funny take on this whole mess.

Blog swine kid

October 22, 2009

The Rita Rules

The Rita Rules by Cousin Rita

So, it’s like midnight, and Margie calls.

Margie: Rita-baby! Guess where I am? (Blank Blank)! But don’t tell anybody (That’s why I wrote Blank, Blank, get it?) cause Steve’s on special assignment, and it’s a big-ass secret, but 45 seconds with my special feather and (blah blah blah, I can’t remember since it’s midnight and all) seen his face when I sashayed into First Class. Makes me glad I earned all those frequent flyer miles visiting Cousin Mitchell in that clinic in Vegas when he had his little problem, ha ha ha.   

Me: Um, okay, have fun, bye.

Margie:  Wait! So I need you do to The Favor again, and this time if the Author Ladies call and say you don’t sound like me, just tell them the TV station’s weather helicopter is hovering over the building. 

Me: Um, okay, have fun, bye.

Margie:  Wait! Don’t forget to put the office key back. Steve says nobody in real life is stupid enough to hide a key under a mat, so it’s the perfect hiding spot. And try not to use the Internet for, you know, anything. And if UPS Steve comes by, tell him I went to visit Cousin Mitchell again, ha ha ha. 

 Me: Um, okay, have fun, bye.

She started to say some stuff about her new boots and what do I think about berets, but I had to go because by then, my sailor friend Clint was up (not that way….okay, not ONLY that way). I told Clint I was going to be Margie for a Day. After he quit laughing, he asked why wasn’t I mad about the middle of the night phone call? So I explained how a Cousin-on-Vacation call is different from an I’m-in-a-Hooters-in-Hong-Kong call and then one thing led to another (not that way…okay, not ONLY that way), and then he said he never met Cousin Mitchell but weren’t we all nice to keep visiting him, and I said there really is no Cousin Mitchell (like a Mancini would ever name a kid Mitchell), and when we say we’re visiting Cousin Mitchell we really mean…uh…uh… 

And then I had to distract him, (not that way…oh, never mind) so I told him one of my Rita Rules. And since Margie locked the supply closet and I can’t take a nap on the futon in there, I’ll share. Just don’t tell her I used the Internet, ‘k?

Rita Rule #1, regarding Emergency Midnight Phone Calls: 

By emergency, I don’t mean a flat tire, because do I look like I change tires? Or if you run out of money at a club, because do I look like an ATM? Or if you run out of “supplies,” because do I look like….a “supply” delivery person? Bail money is off the table, too, because we had a family meeting, and Nonny says the well is bone dry after that little misunderstanding about the G-strings at the G-20. 

Anyway, one girl’s emergency is another girl’s life lesson. So, if you call and wake up Rita, it better be for something that requires a Cousin. Like:

Bad Date: By bad, I don’t mean boring. I’m talking, like, you’re on a first date, and the guy seems hot and normal-- and then he uses a coupon to pay for drinks. Two-for-one-Margaritas does not tell Rita that you are a financial wizard. It tells Rita that soon after the wedding, Coupon Man will try to convince you that home highlights are just as good as salon highlights, and then we’ll all be trucking to the hospital to visit Rocco after his aneurysm. I will save your ass from this loser. Worse, if he tries this cheapskate stunt at dinner, I will save your ass and buy you dinner myself. 

Painful Discoveries: Bunions or an inch-long hair attached to your face do not count. I mean Other Woman. Call me before you touch any sharp objects. And yes, a cell phone with the Other Woman’s number on it is a sharp object. 

Breakups: Anytime, day or night, because men are dogs. And pigs. I don’t really believe that, but I promise to say it over and over while I deliver chocolate and booze and we rip into the fool who tossed away the best thing that ever happened to him, which he did because he is a dog. And a pig. 

Fading Beer Goggles: Self-explanatory.

The Stick Turned Pink. Or Blue: I forget which one is the bad color, but I will deliver six new tests and a bottle of Gatorade. Because those tests are not 100% reliable, and a mother-to-be needs her Electrolytes. 

You’re at the Little Chapel of Love: I am there. With reinforcements. (You paying attention, Rosie?)

You’re at the Little Chapel of Love with Nicky Socio: I am there, with reinforcements and a SWAT team. Ask Rosie if you don’t believe me.

That is Rita Rule #1. And since I know the people here love to backtalk, you can tell me your own rules, because I keep adding to mine. For instance, here’s a new one I just thought of: 

Rita Rule #2 – Never Date Two Guys Named Steve At the Same Time Because It Is Just Too Damn Confusing…Margie.


Cousin Rita