Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ventrilo Kissed

I’m not a big fan (no pun intended) of air kisses. They often seem to say, “I’d kiss you if I really liked you, but since I don’t, I’d rather not soil my lips.”

I was watching the movie, ‘What About Bob’, again… and I always laugh when Dr. Leo Marvin talks to his daughter, Anna, using their look-alike puppet dolls. She fiercely resists but finally gives in to have their puppet conversation in which she tells him exactly what she really thinks.

Wouldn’t using puppets be an excellent way to communicate? It’s a little bit like the air kiss. You’re there, but not. Why don’t we all get look-alike puppets and make it a universal way to communicate? Imagine how many things you could say to someone who intimidates you if it was your doll who said it. Poof! All responsibility is removed from you and put on something inanimate to sop up the blame.

Getting stopped for a traffic violation is always unnerving but what if I just whip out my puppet and say, “Gosh officer, you must have been following me for miles but I swear I don’t have any donuts.”

I used to feel dreadfully inadequate around other artists. I often criticized my own work before they could. There was one very arrogant artist that I would have loved to address with my puppet. “Wow, you sure have a lot of talent. You’re ice sculptures are amazing but what do you do with them after they melt?”

No one likes reporting for jury duty. How about responding like this, “yes, I pride myself on being able to spot a guilty person from miles away, your honor. By the way, I’ve often wondered, what exactly are you wearing under that robe?”

Gossipy co-workers? “You heard it through the grape vine? Why don’t you swing through that word of mouth jungle of yours on the more advanced, Neolithic Echo Jungle vine? It’s much more reliable with information, faster and, oh yeah, when you’re through with that spellbinding expedition be sure to come back and tell me all about it!”

Bad Drivers? Let your puppet give them a piece of your mind. “Yeah, that’s right, don’t adjust your speed to freeway driving, just cut me off and poke along so we’ll both be late.” For this conversation your puppet will need to be equipped with an extended middle digit.

Snooty store clerks are particularly annoying to me. I would love to take out my puppet me. “Why are you so high and mighty? Is it company policy for you to act like a condescending moron? You’re probably living off commission and depend on goofy people like me to buy your crap!”

You can probably think of lots of other conversations within your circle of fiends. Did I say fiends? I meant friends. Kiss, kiss.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

C P ....eeewwww

My husband was cleaning out our hobby room and found one of his old video games, StarCraft. He remembered how much he loved playing it and offered to show me how I could master the basics in no time. I haven’t been into video games since Ms. Pac-Man and I think I became obsessed with that because it involved eating dots and chasing after bouncing fruit. Nevertheless, he wanted me to try his game because if I can get up to speed, we can play online with others. Heh.

He sat with me, offering helpful tips as I completed the first two missions, which took three hours!
It went something like this:

BJ: Okay, click on your SCV.
Me: What’s that?
BJ: That’s your energy collecting vehicle.
Me: Where?
BJ: Down at the bottom of the screen.
Me: That little thing?
BJ: Yeah, left click on it and then right click on the minerals.
Me: Oh! He responded to me.
BJ: Yeah. Now build another worker.
Me: I wish I could have done that a week ago. How do I do that?
BJ: Go to your menu, then click on build and select a worker.
Me: That’s easy, now what?
BJ: EXPAND, always expand! Don’t be afraid to.
Me: Do I look like I’m afraid of expanding? I pulled at the waist band of my sweat pants.
BJ: Okay, now you want to collect gas for energy.
Me: That isn’t hard after aunt Birdie’s green bean casserole.
BJ: You’re gonna need all your resources to defend yourself while you’re being attacked on your next mission.
Me: I’m gonna be attacked?
BJ: Big time.
Me: You know, before we get into the attacking mission, I need to switch over to FarmVille and harvest my Pattypan Squash.
BJ: Squash!
Me: Yeah, I have to plant rice too. I’m just forty points away from level one of Rice mastery.
BJ: Okay, baby, but look, you’re being attacked by the Zergs.
Me: Oh my God, this is worse than being attacked by the Goldman’s at my office holiday party. Where’s my SUV?
BJ: No, you have to build Marines and bunkers.
Me: I’ll bet my squash is starting to wither.
BJ: Defense, defense! Where are your firebots?
Me: What are those?! I was madly clicking on the enemy, not realizing that it was a useless exercise.
BJ: Those guys throw flames. Build some!
Me: Does it have to be so violent? My marines are being splattered all over the ground.
BJ: What is your SCV doing just sitting there? Mine more minerals. Go, go, go!
Me: They’re demolishing my power depot!
BJ: You need minerals to build more. You should have been doing that all along.
Me: Now you tell me.
I kept clicking on the Zergs knowing it was futile.
BJ: That’s okay baby, you’ll get ‘em next time.
He patted me on the head and went to our hobby room to work on some music.

I just sat there panting, and reliving the stress I had just experienced from my total annihilation. With a shaky hand, I opened my browser and went to Facebook. I clicked on the FarmVille icon and there it was, my peaceful little farm. All the cows, chickens, goats and horses were in their places, right where I left them. All my ducks were in one straight row, and my Pattypan squash was ripe for harvesting. There’s no place like home.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I was invited to a time management seminar. Time management? Really? I began to wonder. Can time really be managed? That question kept repeating in my mind until evening when I went to bed. The debate rolled over and over in my mind like a pair of pants in the dryer, with a quarter in one pocket.

I finally drifted off and found myself dreaming about it. I had been given the assignment of disassembling Big Ben and the sending parts out for cleaning. I took my job very seriously and demanded to see Sir Benjamin Hall, who ordered the original fourteen-ton bell in 1859. Of course, no one could put me in touch with him and I was incensed. I decided Big Ben was behind the times and searched out a new bell maker. Since I knew that the Swiss make incredibly accurate time pieces, I contacted Axel Acklin, whom I was told, comes from a long line of watchmakers and was now employed by Ryser Kentfield, one of the most well-known watchmakers in Switzerland. I hired him to help with Big Ben but soon became aware of some issues that could hinder the project.

Axel had a thick-as-molasses Swiss accent that was extremely difficult to understand. I asked him to use his best English and he reached out and slapped me across the face. I expected to hear a smacking sound but instead it sounded like the bell that ends a round in a boxing match.
Suddenly, he was like a drill sergeant shouting out directives in perfect English. The strange thing is, he yodeled after each order.

“Hey you! 60 minutes! You might be famous on CBS, but around here you work for me! I want that big hand to be dismantled inside of an hour! And you! Sixty seconds! You may have waltzed for a minute with Chopin, but I expect you to fox trot around here, and for a whole lot longer! You, time over there, don’t start thinking you’re special because people believe you heal things! Yeah right, I suspect it’s the antibiotics. Think you’re a big shot do you? Just because you have an American magazine named after you? And where the hell did the day go? Probably out brooding about his bad hair. Has anyone ordered him to have a nice one? Come on you bunch of Nannos, is your hourglass half empty or half full?! It’s showtime, where is everyone? I’m going call attendance and when I do, you better say say present!”

I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. I could see that Axel was taking my job into realms that would have caused Sir Benjamin Hall to roll over in his grave. Big Ben had now been replaced with a Swiss Chalet Cuckoo clock complete with hand-carved figures of alp climbers in leiderhosen, beer maidens, farmers, cows and roosters. On the hour, a great green Cuckoo bird emerged from the gigantic doors and emitted a deafening cuckoo sound followed by a music box version of The Happy Wanderer.

I was aghast at the disrespect Axel had shown to one of England’s most cherished landmarks. He laughed like a sinister villain and confessed that he didn’t work for Ryser Kentfield at all, but was really a member of The Black Forest Society and had plans to steal all time from the world. Big Ben would now be known as Big Cuckoo!

In time, I was mobbed by angry Englishmen and tossed onto the street hungry and timeless. I was begging for spare time and living in a cardboard Timex box. I was nearly unconscious when a light appeared in front of me and a figure appeared. He said his name was Sir Benjamin Hall and he put a hand on my shoulder. His touch was electric. He asked me a question. “Can time really be gained, beat, killed, marked, kept, gained, lost, borrowed, multiplied, pressed, small, big, behind, out, in, taken, parted, filled, right, wrong, ahead of us, or managed?”

I tried to answer but all that came out of my mouth was the sound of a cuckoo.

He smiled warmly and asked, “You have a lifetime, but are you having the time of your life?”

That’s when I awoke and smiled. I finally had my answer.