Monday, February 28, 2011

Hair-Raising Horror!

Legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon was interviewed yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning. He talked about his roots in the business (pun intended), and his artistic vision. In his case, "artistic vision" meant that he, not the customer, was always right.

And this is why I never even considered putting my hair in the hands of an upscale stylist. Too much ego there. I like surprises, but not that kind. When I get my hair cut, my position is this: my hair, my money, my choice. For years, I got my hair cut at Fantastic Sam's and was quite happy with them. I wanted simple, and their stylists delivered beautifully. In the past couple of years, however, things changed. For some unfathomable reason, the current crop of stylists don't seem able to do a simple, one-length blunt cut. They're compelled to layer my hair, even when I give them explicit instructions to NOT do so. In the past two years, I've had two good cuts. Just two. And I am beyond frustrated. In fact, I'm looking at frustrated in my rear-view mirror.

How do I get through to these stubborn girls that I want a wash-and-wear cut, not a work of art? I'm not good with styling tools. The only thing I can do consistently with a curling iron is burn myself. I wash my hair in the shower--at night. No way am I going to get up two hours early so I can wash my hair and spend an hour in front of the bathroom mirror with a blow dryer and round brush!

I tried Great Clips. Same problem. Are stylists now only being taught to layer, or is this just a way to hide mistakes? I find myself wondering if I could get what I'm looking for at a barber shop....

Or maybe even more drastic measures are needed....

I've decided I will no longer tolerate being ignored when I get into that chair. The next time a stylist layers my hair after I've told her not to, she will be doing it for free, because I will no longer pay for a cut I don't want!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


How do I hate captchas? Let me count the ways....

Yes, I know that sounds silly...but my loathing of captchas is, well, profound. As much as I enjoy reading and commenting on the blogs I follow, I confess that I do tend to read captcha-free blogs first, simply because I can read and comment on more blogs that way. My eyesight is not the best, and having to deal with captchas that aren't always clear--maybe making two or three attempts before succeeding--is time-consuming.

Given that we all have the option of deleting unwanted comments from our blogs, why do we need captchas anyway? 

Can't we all just be captcha-free?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Delayed Departure

They put a lock on my urn, for crying out loud! The very same lock they used to lock my cage door when they discovered I could let myself out! Talk about adding insult to injury....

Oh, come on--where are my ashes going to go? Hello--not in there! I'm over here! Why do you think you always have the feeling I'm watching you? That's because I am! What you have under lock and key is just what was left of my shell. My spirit is free. I can fly again. I can go wherever I want.

Except to Heaven.

Anybody remember the movie Ghost? Patrick Swayze's character couldn't go to Heaven until he rescued Demi Moore's Molly from the guy who'd killed him. (Yes, I did watch more than just those great bird videos on YouTube.) Well, I can't leave as long as these two need me. They can't survive without me. I've been taking care of them for the past twenty-plus years. 

They need to be looked after.

They come in the door calling out to me. She almost went to the fridge to get me a grape. She still wakes early so I can have time out of my cage to start the day. They love me, and I love them. And, as Swayze says in the movie, that's the one thing we take with us into the afterlife. The only thing. So when anybody tells you, "You can't take it with you," it's not entirely true.

You take love. And that's more than enough.

Monday, February 21, 2011

All Birds Go To Heaven

I made it clear to all concerned that my journal could only be made public posthumously, so if you're reading this, well....

You're no doubt wondering if I've gone to Heaven. Of course I have. May I point out that birds don't sin? We get a free pass--though I have to confess that, given the chance, I might have taken a bite out of that apple myself. I love apples. I prefer grapes, but apples are tasty, too.

So...I've found, the hard way, that your life really does pass before your eyes at the end. Being as old as I was, this fact bought me some time. It took a while to get to the end credits in the story of my life, as you'll soon discover.

My name is Sam. I'm a grey cheeked parakeet. Why we grey cheeks are labeled parakeets remains a mystery to me. Look at me--do I look like a parakeet to you? Mind you, I have nothing against parakeets. I just happen to think I look more like a parrot.

It's the size thing, isn't it? Size really does matter. I read. I know how humans think. When everybody's out, I spend my time reading the newspaper at the bottom of my cage, and I learn stuff. Size is why Pluto got demoted from planet status. Size is why insecure human males buy those, uh, enhancement products.

Hey, guys--it's not what you've got, it's how you use it. At least I think so. I don't have any firsthand experience, you see. I've never had any contact with the opposite sex among my own kind. Not that I didn't want to....

March 11, 2011: We just located some video clips of Sam, made by Collin. They're a bit grainy--he'd just gotten the camera and was still learning to use it, but here they are....

Friday, February 18, 2011

In Memoriam: Sam (1989-2011)

At 7:45 pm last night, our beloved grey-cheeked parakeet, Sam, passed away at the advanced age (for a grey cheek) of twenty-one. He died at home, in my arms, leaving this world with all the love and comfort Collin and I were able to give him. In the weeks to come, I'll be telling the story of Sam's long and surprising life here--through his eyes. I hope you'll continue to stop by. I think you'll enjoy the journey.

In the meantime, for anyone who has ever loved a creature companion of any kind, please feel free to share your own thoughts and memories.  Do all dogs go to Heaven, as a Disney movie once asked? I believe they do--as do birds, cats, hamsters, horses, lizards, etc. After all, when God saved Noah and his family from the Great Flood, they weren't on that Ark alone....

I received this from our very dear friend Carolyn Crowe, who was also a dear friend to Sam. It kind of says it all....

May I Go

Do you think the time is right?
May I say goodbye to pain filled days and endless lonely nights?
I've lived my life and done my best, an example tried to be.
So can I take that step beyond, and set my spirit free?
I didn't want to go at first, I fought with all my might.
But something seems to draw me now to a warm and living light.
I want to go, I really do; it's difficult to stay.
But I will try as best I can to live just one more day.
To give you time to care for me and share your love and fears.
I know you're sad and afraid, because I see your tears.
I'll not be far, I promise that, and hope you'll always know,
That my spirit will be close to you wherever you may go.
Thank you so for loving me. You know I love you too,
And that's why it's hard to say goodbye and end this life with you.
So hold me now just one more time and let me hear you say,
Because you care so much for me, you'll let me go today.

by Susan A. Jackson

William also posted a blog in Sam's honor. Have a look:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Colors of Love

Guys, pay attention! Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and if you're planning to say it with roses, you'd better make sure what you're saying. The color rose you choose could be sending the wrong message....

White--innocence and purity. But it's also a favorite at weddings, so unless you're proposing, better pass on the white!

Pink--admiration, sweetness, romantic without an admission of love. Noncommittal, in other words. (This one's recommended for the guy who wants to get laid but isn't making any promises.)

Yellow--friendship, platonic love. If you send this one to a woman, you're saying she's incredible. Just not for you.

(When I sold my first novel, my publisher sent me a dozen red roses. When they bought my second and third books, I got yellow roses. I should have realized then that the honeymoon was over!)

Sterling silver or lavender rose--my personal favorite. Enchantment, love at first sight, the unattainable. Yes, I can see that. This rose isn't so common. It's unique. To me, if a guy gave me sterling silver roses, he'd be telling me I'm one of a kind. Special.

The red rose--everyone knows this one is the rose that says "I love you."

When I was growing up, my parents had all colors of roses in their garden. Some were hybrids. One was yellow with red tips. I wonder, does that one go to the friends with benefits?

Happy Valentine's Day! Don't send out any mixed messages, guys, or you'll be spending a very unromantic night at Le Chateau Bow-Wow....

Six Sentence Sunday

William told me about this one, which he's picked up from other blogs. Take six random sentences from your own work or a book you're reading and put them in order. It sounded like fun, and I'm in need of some fun, so here goes....

These six sentences are from Final Hours, published in 2009:

The world as we know it will end within the next two days.

"You think I'm beautiful?" she  asked, obviously finding my comment amusing. "Should I be looking for your guide dog, too?"

"My mother told me to never get in the car with strangers--and I don't know anybody any stranger than you."

It was the ugliest dog I'd ever seen, but for Kate it was love at first sight.

I gave him a single-finger salute and dropped my coat on the couch, then headed upstairs.

I could put a bullet in her brain while she sleeps, then one in my own.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Type Pain in the A Personality

We've all known at least one: the co-worker who talks nonstop about himself and his abilities, which are always superior to anyone else's...the relative who ruins the family reunion with tales of all of his adventures (most of which never happened)...the total stranger on that long, long flight (or at least it seemed that way) who wouldn't shut up, oblivious to the fact that you couldn't care less about his streaming BS.

They're the ones who make you want to throttle them. They're the spoilers who ruin every event they attend. They're the guys who can clear the water cooler area with amazing speed.

In the movie Big Fish, the relationship between Edward Bloom and his son is severely damaged by his endless stories of his larger-than-life exploits. Only when Edward is near death do the two reconcile. A cautionary tale?

I went to high school with a girl who talked incessantly about herself. No matter what you did, she'd done it better. She had no interest in anyone else other than as an audience. If you did manage to get off the topic of her, she would immediately turn it back. I saw her again after several years and was anxious to let her know that I was now a published author, a goal we'd both aspired to. She refused to even acknowledge it.

William and I met a woman online who, no matter what either of us mentioned doing, would respond with, "Oh, me too! I've done (had/experienced) that!" I distanced myself from her when every conversation started to feel like a competition. 

This woman was so self-absorbed that when she read an erotica piece I wrote for William, she immediately concluded that he was the male protagonist and the female character was her. She said she had even told friends I was playing matchmaker between them. (I revised the piece and made the woman a blonde and the gem in her engagement ring a sapphire instead of a ruby, which was brunette A's birthstone. Why she'd think I would make her the heroine in any story remains a mystery to me.)

And then there's the worst and most recent offender--a jerk in the Writers Digest online community. He became such an annoyance that several people threatened to leave the site. He's not a lawyer, but gave legal advice. He's never been published, nor does he work in the publishing industry, yet he's always professing expertise in long, rambling posts that are usually insulting to other posters. Complaints have been made against him to site administrators.

For some of us, he's become the favorite butt of our jokes. If I were a betting person--and I am--I'd bet this guy will never sell his work, in spite of his nonstop attempts to dazzle everyone with his "brilliance."

He's just too boring.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Postgame Commentary

No, not the one made by the guys who actually know what they're talking about. This commentary comes to you from someone who does not follow football...or baseball, hockey or basketball, for that matter. Yes, I did watch the Super Bowl last night. I watched for the ads. A lot of people do, you know.

There was that pint-sized Darth Vader...the pug vs. the idiot with the Doritos...the collection of images from old TV shows...not the best year for Super Bowl ads, but pretty good. I used to work for a major advertising agency, and I saw some damn good work there, so even though I tend to think of commercials as time outs for trips to the kitchen or the loo, I'll actually record the standouts.

As for the game, I knew the score at any given time because--duh!--it's always posted in the corner of the TV screen. Did I understand it? Nope. I'm surprised I haven't been run out of St. Louis for that. St. Louis is a big sports town. To show you how seriously St. Louisans take sports, consider this: years ago, when the football Rams came to St. Louis, they were pathetic. (I suspect Los Angeles paid St. Louis to take them, though no one in either city will ever admit to it.) That year, when Collin chose his winter coat, he chose a yellow and blue insulated jacket with a hood--and the Rams logo.

Big mistake.

As I was saying, the Rams sucked...and the fans were very unhappy with them. And I'm not a fan, but I did like Collin's jacket. It was a very warm jacket, and I was always borrowing it when I took the dog for a walk, so Mom bought me one of my own for Christmas. It was the last Christmas gift she bought for me. It almost got me stoned (and no I'm not talking marijuana). When Collin and I would walk down a street, any street, people would shout some very unkind things at us. I wondered when they'd start throwing things....

Fortunately for us, that all changed in 2000, when the Rams won the Super Bowl and that first sign of the Apocalypse was verified. Seriously. One local radio station ran a TV promo featuring a lave lamp and a bunch of cliches, like: When pigs fly...when hell freezes over...when the Rams win the Super Bowl. Whereupon the pleasant music comes to a screeching halt and on the TV screen: Ooops!

After that, passing motorists cheered when we came out in our Rams jackets. Then the team changed their colors and we became outdated. But that's okay. The jackets wore out long ago and were retired.

Will the Rams win another Super Bowl? Sorry, St. Louis. I think we'll see the Second Coming before we see that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where's Snowzilla?

The warnings began late last week. A winter storm of "historic" proportions was headed our way. (They actually used the word "historic.") Comparisons were made to the blizzard of 1982 and the ice storm of 2006. We would be facing a state of emergency, newscasters warned repeatedly. Over a foot of snow was expected over a layer of ice. The entire bi-state area would be crippled for days, maybe longer, they said. Ameren called in crews from other states in anticipation of massive power outages. The Department of Transportation crews prepared to chemically treat the interstates and highways. News conferences were held to warn us to stay in our homes.

Which we did. Happily. 

The morning the storm arrived, all the local news programs went on the air early to cover this major weather event--and they stayed on most of the day, repeating, for the most part, the same information over and over. They didn't seem to notice that the blizzard they predicted never quite materialized. We got snow, yes We got enough ice to shut down schools and businesses, but no blizzard. But no Snowzilla.

(Looks like the folks on the East Coast are about as happy as we are.)

Newscasters and meteorologists tend to go overboard in their coverage of severe weather. They push all of the panic buttons simultaneously. My favorite drive-time radio gang, Phillips & Company at Y98, on the other hand, treated it with their trademark good humor, with talk of overnight bags and being stuck at the station.

At our house, everything, including the weather, is treated with equal irreverence. Tuesday evening, Collin and I watched The Day After Tomorrow and had French vanilla ice cream. Just so we could see the storm we missed. 

The Blizzard of 1982 sneaked up on us. The Blizzard of 2011 seems to have sneaked away.