The Prince’s Pride

vizzini

Are we laughing or crying? 

Over the last three years, I’ve often felt like Vizzini from “The Princess Bride” where he constantly says things are “Inconceivable!”

Trump pays off a porn star with no consequences. “Inconceivable!”

Trump ignores requests for stricter gun control laws. “Inconceivable!”

Trump is bringing back coal and destroying EPA regulations. “Inconceivable!”

Trump asks a foreign government to investigate an opponent. “Inconceivable!”

Trump blocked a rule that would cut industrial toxic pollution by 90 percent. “Inconceivable!”

Trump bullies a 16-year-old environmental activist/rockstar. “Inconceivable!”

Trump continues to insult public figures without remorse. “Inconceivable!”

Trump is impeached and Republicans bend over backward to justify his behavior. “Inconceivable!”

Trump has a Rodent of Unusual Size living under his bed. Okay, that’s conceivable.

Tom finally said to me, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I think he’s right. The inconceivable has become commonplace. Trump’s rants, antics, lies, disrespect and behavior have been normalized. No more are we surprised by the horrible things he says daily.

Just like “The Princess Bride”, good stories need a revenge plot. Trump has it covered. He threatens revenge against anyone and everyone who crosses him. He trolls his Twitter feed calling out the Fake News Media, former staff members and, hopefully, his stylist.

But no one cares. Inconceivable!

Social status is another theme of “The Princess Bride” – and the Trump Administration. In

humper

“I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I’m still alive.” –Trump or Humperdinck

the movie, Prince Humperdinck avoids the “commoners” while raising his status by trying to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. Trump also chooses status over leadership, cutting corporate taxes and avoiding places like Puerto Rico. Appearance is everything. If it’s not shiny, he doesn’t see it.

Nothing happens. No consequences. Inconceivable!

I’m sure he tucks his administration into bed at night with “Good night, staff. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

The REAL Real Housewives of Salt Lake City

Unless you’ve been living in the Gobi Desert, hiding from the toxic political atmosphere, you’re well aware that Bravo will air the “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” in 2020. As if 2020 wasn’t going to be terrible enough.

photo-of-woman-wearing-black-dress-beside-horse-2090704

Just a housewife. In a dress. With her horse. They’re so like us.

If you’re not familiar with the intellectual and thought-provoking series, executive producer Andy Cohen flies to town in his invisible helicopter, rounds up glamourous white women, tells them to act like idiots, then throws a diamond necklace into a swimming pool to watch them jump in wearing slinky evening gowns.

It started in 2006 with “The Real Housewives of Orange County” and then spread like the plague through New York, Atlanta, Beverly Hills and other unsuspecting cities. In any given episode, you can expect nanny drama, coiffed eyebrows, white woman problems, plastic surgery cleavage, mean gossip, pouty lips, cats, jewelry for cats, catty behavior and lots of big hair.

But why Utah? Well, the series tends to be overwhelmingly white, so I guess Utah makes sense. And I’ve heard that some women in Utah live glamourous lives in upper-class communities. That rules me out. My glamorous life consists of digging through laundry for a pair of matching socks.

What I want to see is “The REAL Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.”

Episode #1: Judy is late for church. She’s wrangling her seven children into their Sunday best while her husband spends the morning in church meetings. He calls to ask why she’s late again and she throws her phone into the garbage disposal and takes all the kids to Denny’s for breakfast.

Episode #2: Carol has been asked to plan a girl’s camp for a swarm of 12-year-olds. She hates camping. And 12-year-old girls. She reaches out to her friends to create a fun week-long adventure in the Wasatch Mountains. Carol hides a flask of “Holy Water” in her scriptures.

Episode #3: Brittany sewed matching pajamas for her entire family but no one wants to wear them for the family Christmas picture. Brittany locks herself in the bathroom to cry while her husband insists he loves the purple-plaid, footed pajamas that he’ll wear for the photo if she’ll JUST STOP CRYING!

Episode #4: Shelly is a wonderful cook. She makes cinnamon rolls to DIE for. Her best friend asks Shelly for her recipe. Shelly happily obliges, but changes all the measurements so her friend’s cinnamon rolls will taste like s***.

Episode #5: Alexa is in love. At 18 years old, she just wants her returned missionary boyfriend to propose so they can live happily ever after. There’s a lot of seductive hand-holding, late-night scripture reading and even a sleepover, which is actually just a New Year’s Eve party with six other couples playing Skip-Bo and drinking sparkling cider.

Instead of all these genuine Salt Lake City scenarios, the new show will feature your basic Housewives’ dilemmas. Boo. Here’s Stefon from Saturday Night Live to explain what we’ll see during the show (because I miss him and want him to return to SNL so much).

stefon“If you’re watching ‘The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’ you can expect hysteria at the highest levels. There will be screeching, low cut gowns, pygmy goats directing traffic, Aquanet toothpaste, a jewelry heist, several cans of Pillsbury pizza crust, a lusty affair with a diesel mechanic, Spam, cabana boys with cowboy hats, Golden Retrievers wearing red pumps and a gala at Salt Lake’s newest club, Spork.”

Actually, that might actually make 2020 bearable.

Son of a Nutcracker

shallow-focus-photography-of-wooden-nutcracker-1697234It’s the time of year people pretend “The Nutcracker” ballet is a fun holiday activity. If you’re one of the lucky few who never sat through this weird production involving multi-headed vermin, living toys and one unsettling old man, here’s a recap.

Picture a festive house in the late 1800s with dozens of dancing guests, skipping children and happy servants, basically, it’s the “12 Days of Christmas” come to life. Young Clara and her obnoxious brother, Fritz, are the ballet version of little kids crazy-excited for Christmas. (The ballet version differs from real life because ballet dancers don’t speak, where real children don’t shut up from Thanksgiving to Christmas morning.)

Dr. Drosselmeyer, Clara’s super-creepy godfather, appears at the party dressed like Count Chocula and presents her with a wooden nutcracker. Clara is over-the-top ecstatic, for reasons I’ll never understand. I guess children had a different relationship with nutcrackers in the 19th century.

Clara’s brother is SO jealous of the gift (right??) that he flings the nutcracker across the room, because really, what else can you do with a nutcracker? Clara’s despondent. She wraps his broken wooden body in a sling (like ya do) and falls asleep on the couch, snuggled to her nutcracker.

During the night, the Rat King and his minions sneak into Clara’s home, because why not? She wakes up and freaks out. The nutcracker turns into a handsome soldier and wields his sword to defeat the rodent army.

“Nutcracker! You’re my hero!” screams Clara, if people in a ballet could talk.

“That’s Prince Nutcracker to you, peasant,” he sniffs in pantomime, before taking her to the magical Land of the Sweets ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy who has an unclear but definite sexual relationship with Prince Nutcracker.

While in the Land of Sweets, Clara watches dancers from Russia, Spain, China and Arabia (?) as they perform in a culturally stereotypical fashion. Prince Nutcracker sits next to Clara cracking walnuts with his jaw like some football jock.

Mother Ginger shows up in drag with a skirt full of tumbling children, then there’s a flower waltz and dancing pipes and tons more pirouetting before the Sugar Plum Fairy takes the stage to make everyone else look clumsy and insipid. It’s all performed to Tchaikovsky’s musical score that stays in your head through January.

In the end, it turns out it was all a dream, as most stories involving young girls and adventure turn out to be.

I told you that story to tell you this story.

group-of-girls-doing-ballet-exercise-1638734When I was a gangly 11-year-old, still full of hope, I auditioned for Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker.” As the audition drew nearer, I practiced every spin and arabesque I’d ever learned. I played the music all day until my dad walked into my room, removed the album from the turntable and smashed it into pieces with his bare hands.

I showed up at the audition with my hair pulled into a bun so tight it closed my eyes. An elegant dancer performed several steps that we practiced for a few minutes, then we performed for the judges. It was over so quickly. As dancers were given roles as soldiers, party goers and mice, I held my breath.

But my number wasn’t called. I was heartbroken.

Maybe decades later I’m insulted that the ballet judges couldn’t see my awkward talent. Or maybe I’ve endured enough versions of this tale to see it’s craziness. And if “The Nutcracker” is your family’s favorite holiday tradition, ignore my opinion. It’s all a dream anyway.

Don’t Forget November

pumpkins-on-a-table-3094075Sandwiched between October and December, November is the bologna of months. Everyone pulls it out, gives it a sniff, then tosses it in the trash. Once Halloween is over, we blast into a frenzy of Christmas shopping and decorating, forgetting all about this beautiful month full of autumn leaves, crisp apples and carb overload.

We need a marketing team to change the perception of November from “Brownish month when we count our blessings” to “A kaleidoscope of excitement. And pie.” Okay, maybe “kaleidoscope” is overkill, and it’s hard to spell, but you get the idea.

Thanksgiving continues its reign as the best holiday between Halloween and Christmas but even the cherished turkey day has its opponents. It’s almost impossible to tell the origin story of Thanksgiving without pissing someone off. Let’s just say people living in America (probably not its original name) in the 1600s created the first Chuck-A-Rama, minus the carrot-filled Jell-O.

In the U.S., any holiday that has the tagline “An Attitude of Gratitude” is doomed from the start but what if we created a terrifying mascot? People like threats and merchandising. What if Gerta the Ghoulishly Grateful Goose (sold as a freakish Beanie Babies stuffed animal) flies into your bedroom on Thanksgiving Eve to make sure you’re being thankful. Not enough gratitude? She pecks your forehead and flies off with your pumpkin pies. Instead of Elf on the Shelf, how about Goose on the Loose? You read it here first, people.

What else happens in November . . . ?

Election Day! The first Tuesday after the first Monday when the moon is full and pythons are mating, is set aside for foreign nations to measure success by screwing up election results with fake social media content. As opposed, to genuine social media content. Consider this year a dry-run for the 2020 Apocalyptic Election to End all Elections.

Black Friday is also in November. What if we protest Black Friday sales and refuse to shop or decorate for Christmas until, call me crazy, December 1? Christmas is sneaky. Once you allow Christmas tree lots to set up in November, it’s an easy slide into year-round Christmas where everyone is miserable and broke. Charles Dickens could (posthumously) pen a story where we learn Ebenezer Scrooge was right all along, perhaps titled, “A Christmas Peril.”

Movember is also a thing where men are encouraged to grow mustaches to raise awareness for the importance of shaving – and men’s health issues. A group of women have also sworn to stop shaving for the month. That group is called Europe.

The first Wednesday in November is Stress Awareness Day, created by parents who realize Christmas is weeks away and their children are reaching frenetic levels of idiocy. Maybe November needs its own alcoholic beverage that we start drinking on this day. How about a mulled cider with a tequila chaser called the No No November?

Veteran’s Day is cool. World Kindness Day is super nice. But let’s tackle the real meaning of November. Pie.

Pie is the reason for November. With harvest foods like apples and pumpkins and close-up-of-tasty-looking-baked-goods-2955816.jpgpeaches and pears and banana cream, pie in November is as necessary as breathing, especially if breathing is slathered in homemade whipped cream or served a la mode.

So instead of treating November like it’s some type of disgusting mystery meat, can we agree it’s at least hamburger, maybe even a sirloin? Who knows, if we keep slapping Christmas back to its own month we might even enjoy the leaves, the apples – and the pie. Always the pie.

The Witching Hour

calendar-carved-carving-1480861

We all know Halloween is funded by Big Dental to create more cavities but it’s also true that Halloween traditions started long before lobbyists destroyed the planet. Black cats, pumpkins and ghosts existed at least 50 years ago, and probably longer.

So how did Halloween customs get started? Lucky for you, I researched this topic on the Internet contraption.

Did you know Bobbing for Apples was actually a dating game in ancient Rome? Kind of like Tinder, only with more drowning.

My elementary school did a dry version called Bobbing for Marbles. Teachers filled a plastic pool with flour and mixed in a few dozen marbles. We had to use our mouths to find the marbles. The two most likely outcomes were a) Inhale flour and die or b) Inhale a marble and die. Not even joking here.

Jack-o’-lanterns have a weird backstory that involves a guy named Stingy Jack, the devil and wandering spirits. I guess ghosts are afraid of gourds and root vegetables.  Who knew? Originally they used turnips, not pumpkins, but who’s ever heard of a turnip spice latte? So they had to start using pumpkins.

Black cats became associated with Halloween because witches have black cats. Duh.

Costumes date back to Biblical times when Jacob dressed up as his brother to trick his blind father into giving him keys to the donkey. It was also the first trick-or-treat on record.

When I was a kid, costumes included plastic masks, made from asbestos and glue, that would slowly asphyxiate you if you didn’t walk into a ditch first because you couldn’t see s*** through the pinpoint eyeholes.

Bats get a bad reputation. They’re not inherently evil, except for vampire bats that turn into the bloodsucking undead to hunt humans for food and eternal life. But originally, people would sit around bonfires (the 1780’s bug zapper), wishing for things like penicillin and electricity. The fires would attract insects and the insects attracted bats and people freaked out. As we are wont to do.

Handing out candy has several origin stories, including buying off zombies with snacks, bribing the dead, and kids going from house to house asking families for dinner because they didn’t want to eat what their mom had spent hours making for them because they’re ungrateful little . . .

Anyhoo.

Treats handed out to children have also evolved. It’s gone from apples and boiled carrots (boo) to king-size Butterfinger bars (hooray!).

Here’s what my Halloween bag contained when I was a kid: 8 dozen rolls of Smarties, 17 types of rock-hard bubble gum, 38 Bit-O-Honeys, 422 Pixie sticks, 25 pounds of saltwater taffy, 14 spider rings and one mini Snickers bars. It was the ‘70s. Don’t judge.

adorable-animal-canine-1564506One element of Halloween remained a mystery to me. When did we think dressing dogs in tutus was a good idea? I assumed the whole pet costume fiasco was started by rich, white girls with too much time and money. Turns out, in the 19th century, dog costumery was a thing – with the animal fashion industry churning out traveling cloaks, silk jackets, tea gowns and . . . wait for it . . . dog bikinis.

What Halloween traditions do you observe? Knife throwing? Handing out real goldfish to trick-or-treaters? You never know what your customs will become centuries from now.

Whatever you do, don’t sell your candy to a dentist. Big Dental just sells it back to grocery stores to reuse for the next Halloween.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper 

Take Your Best Shot

Untitled design (3).pngI’m stating right up front I hate vaccinations. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I’m just more afraid of getting a tetanus shot than dying a horribly painful death.

My dad scarred me for life when he told me to avoid petting strange dogs. I didn’t know what made them strange, but he went on to explain how dogs have rabies and if you get bit, you get a great big shot in your stomach – or you die. #OldYeller

That was enough to scare me away from dogs for at least 40 years. The neighbors got tired of me screaming every time their dog barked.

And it made me terrified of shots.

My mom did her part when it came to scaring the DiSeases out of me in regards to vaccinations. She showed up at school one day to give me a ride home, which should have been my first clue. Mom never drove us to or from school, even in the snow, even in the rain, even when we were late, even when stupid boys threw earthworms at us.

But there she was, in the pick-up line with a big smile on her face (second clue).

“Why are you here?” I asked, suspiciously.

“We’re going to get a treat,” she said, all innocent and everything.

“Super!”

As soon as I was in the car, we drove to my doctor’s office where he proceeded to give me an MMR booster.

There are no words.

When my daughters needed shots, I dreaded it more than they did. Usually. There was that one time when teenage daughters #3 and #4 literally ran around the doctor’s office to avoid their immunizations. They only settled down when the cute male nurse came and stood in the doorway.

Even when it pained me, my daughters got all their shots. Every. Single. One. Plus, I threw in a few more just to be safe.

Back in the day, when people died from pretty much everything, the arrival of vaccines was celebrated. Some diseases were so deadly they were used as weapons. #NotCool

When the polio vaccine was introduced, the public went wild. They were tired of watching their children die.

Finally, scientists created ways to protect us from smallpox, rabies, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria and BTS. Each year, vaccines prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide.

You know there’s a but.

But for the first time ever, this year the World Health Organization (WHO?) added “vaccine hesitancy” to the list of top 10 health issues. Not because there’s a shortage or because vaccines are unavailable. Nope. Parents just don’t want to get their kids immunized.

They worry vaccines aren’t safe, despite generations of success, millions of lives saved and numerous studies from important medical people like Bill Nye the Science Guy.

I understand this is a divisive topic. I’m just not sure why.

Yes, there can be risks, but they are small compared to the overall health of the universe. That’s like saying, “My neighbor was in a car crash and the seat belt broke her ribs. I’m never wearing a seat belt again.”

Some say immunizations go against their religious belief. Is it possible God inspired scientists to create vaccines as an answer to millions of prayers? He inspired someone to create fudge-dipped Oreos. That was a definite answer to a prayer. #AngelsAmongUs

Thanks to social media and digital platforms, anti-vaxxers continue to wage war against science and common sense. In the meantime, disease is on the rise.

As school starts, get your kids immunized, which is super hypocritical considering I’ll most likely die from rabies or tetanus.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper.

Hot Diggity Dog

Ringo the Dog came to live with us 10 years ago and I’ve mentioned his crazy antics often over the years, including, but not limited to:

  • The night he ate our couch.
  • The day he chewed the leg off the coffee table.
  • His fear of vacuums.
  • His love of snow.
  • The times he’d snuggle in my lap, even as a 90-pound dog.
  • The way the word “walk” sent him into spasms of joy.
  • The way he’d act like I was returning from a 90-day world cruise, although I’d just gone downstairs to get towels out of the dryer.
  • The way he couldn’t corral the grandkids, and it drove him bonkers.

Good BoyFive months ago, Ringo the Dog passed away. It was unexpected and heartbreaking. There was a sudden emptiness in our home that had been filled with Ringo begging for treats or running in and out of the doggie door.

We were all dazed, unsure how to move through our dogless days. There was no furry distraction keeping us from sliding down the death spiral of today’s political chaos.
I had to start talking to my husband. I had no good reason to go for walks every day. No one jumped on me when I got home from work. Well, my husband did, but it just wasn’t the same.

Few things are as satisfying as a warm, happy dog snuggled next to you.

So.

For my birthday in July, we decided it was time to get a puppy. I yelped and jumped on the Google machine like an 8-week-old Pomeranian to search for dogs. I was quickly overwhelmed with the sheer number of puppies and the high-level of cuteness available.

Then I saw a German Shepherd/Lab puppy on the Community Animal Welfare Society website. I contacted the CAWS foster mom and was told he’d already been adopted – but his sister was available.

I couldn’t drive fast enough to meet this little ball of furry energy. Even before I’d held her, I knew she was mine. When we discovered her birthday was Star Wars Day (May the Fourth), that clinched it. #StarWarsGeek

We named her Jedi.

After filling out the application, where I had to list everything from how often she’d go for walks (daily) to what Netflix shows I binged (all of them), CAWS finally approved her adoption and we brought Jedi home.

Jedi-2monthsI forgot what it’s like to have a puppy sleep between your feet as you get ready for work. I get overwhelmed with happiness every time she pounces on her squeaky toy. I find reasons to stop at PetsMart every day for treats and toys and accessories. My husband suspended my credit card.

My 2-year-old granddaughter can finally boss something smaller than her. My 7-year-old grandson spends time training her to sit and lie down. (The puppy, not his sister.) My husband’s adjusting to having Jedi knock the lamp over every single day. I’m floating on a puppy-shaped cloud.

I tried to invoke the Family Medical Leave Act so I could spend all day with Jedi watching her explore and grow. My boss wasn’t buying it, so I dash home during lunch for some quick puppy love.

I know we’re in the puppy honeymoon stage and soon our sweet little girl will turn into a velociraptor, only with more teeth. But I also know time with our pets is so short. That makes it all the sweeter. Jedi didn’t replace Ringo, she’s just a rambunctious extension of his joy.

I’m sure every dog owner thinks they have the most wonderful dog in the world. The best thing is, they’re right.

Originally published in the Davis Clipper