2012: Setting the Bar Low

Welcome to Deep-Fried Friday, where I give my deep thoughts on juicy/crunchy topics. Today’s is – I feel so original – RESOLUTIONS. Like many others, I make New Year’s resolutions. Usually, it’s only one or two big things, but I definitely take inventory of where I am now and where I want to be in the future and set a few goals for the upcoming year.

While there are some large things I want to accomplish, I wonder if too many times we fail because we aim for the unattainable. There is a SMART model out there for goal-setting, which suggests that one’s goals should be:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

Focusing on the Attainable and Realistic, I’m thinking that this could be the year to SET THE BAR LOW. It’s like my primary care physician said when she realized my general aversion to fruits and vegetables (unless they can be fried): She didn’t tell me to up my count to six servings; she said that usually people don’t make that big a change, so I should just aim for adding one more serving . . . for now.

So here it goes for setting the bar low. For 2012, I will:

Not be the worst lawn on the block. Sure, I could wish that I would suddenly develop a green thumb; that I would plan a backyard retreat, a vegetable garden, and a rose-bush hedge; that I would plant a landscaping spread worthy of a magazine front cover. But realistically, I just need to make sure I’m not an embarrassment to the neighbors. I don’t want my weed count bringing down property values or making people assume that no one lives in that untended house.

Regularly pull that one hair that grows longer than all of the others. Some of you have this issue too. There’s that one hair on your arm that inexplicably grows to Crystal-Gayle length, or maybe it’s on your back, your leg, or wherever. Perhaps you need to groom hair that doesn’t grow too long so much as where it shouldn’t – ears, back, upper lip (ladies), between your brows to form an evil-unibrow stare?

Should I tell you where mine is? What the heck. Let’s simply say I could happily chant, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” (Thank heaven it’s blond.)

Purge my dresser/closet of high school and college clothes. I’ve been out of school for over twenty years, and I have deluded myself into thinking I’m going to fit back into that black suede skirt I bought at Lord & Taylor during a college break. It ain’t happening. Period.

I also have white satin shorts that I wore with my drum major outfit in high school. I’ve been telling myself that they are a keepsake. But my sons are not going to want me to pass down satin shorts the size of Barbie’s bum to remember their mom by. Secretly, I was hoping that one day, I might be able to slip into those babies and zip them all the way up. It’s time to face facts. Satin shorts are not in my future, unless they are stretchy elastic boxers that I borrow from my husband after eating too much raw cookie dough.

Shower before 3 p.m. every day. I discovered that mornings in my house work better if I get my kids off to school, then shower and get ready for the day. Then I discovered that it was comfy to go to my writing nook in my cozy pajamas and get some work done. After that, what was the point of getting dressed before cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, or vacuuming the house? Come to think of it, day clothes were also unnecessary for reading a novel, paying bills, and making a grocery list. Before I knew it, there were days when I finally jumped in the shower around 4:00 p.m., only to make sure that I wasn’t wearing pajamas when my kids returned home from school.

I am better than that. I can take that shower at least by 3:00 p.m., leaving plenty of time for my hair to completely dry before the family returns home.

Not eat my kids’ candy without their permission knowledge. Be it Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas candy, I am one of those parents who has been known to sneak a few pieces of chocolate when the kids aren’t looking. I choose whatever rationalization works best in my mind:

  • I helped my kids get the candy; I deserve a cut of the action.
  • I need to make sure the candy is okay for consumption. (Erin Brambilla’s got this covered.)
  • It’s just one piece, and there are all of these other pieces still left.
  • They don’t like this particular kind all that much anyway.

And somehow, candy that you eat on the sly, without anyone knowing, doesn’t count toward your calories for the day. You barely admit it to yourself, so it sure ain’t going in the food diary.

But this year, I need to acknowledge that I am eating that candy. I need to look my children in the face and at least say, “Hey, I’m eating this” before I pop it into my mouth and make googly eyes of satisfaction. If my kids can’t get to me in time to prevent the Hershey kiss from melting on my tongue, that’s their problem. They should have resolved to lock their candy away in 2012.

I’m sure I could think of more. But those will do for now. How about you?

What are your New Year’s resolutions? What resolutions would you make if you were setting the bar low this time?

For a genuine look at goal-setting, check out 2012 and Planning for Success in the New Year by Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone.

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Tag, You’re IT!

In elementary school, I hated being IT. I was puny, an awkward runner, and not particularly interested in slapping people to make them freeze or become the new IT kid. But in the blogosphere, it’s fun!

So my thanks to author friend Tiffany A. White for hunting me down on the virtual playground and tagging me for the Writer’s Platform Building Campaign hosted by Rachael Harrie.

Here are the three simple rules:

You get tagged by someone;

You list 10 random facts about yourself; and

You tag 4 more people.

As if I didn’t already feel adequately esteemed, Tia Bach at Depression Cookies passed on the Kreativ Blogger Award to me! Given my love of grammar, it was a little hard for me to type that creative spelling. Just joking! I can totally relax and enjoy this award. Thanks so much to Tia! (You gotta love the title Depression Cookies, right? And she’s as much fun as you’d expect!)

For the Kreativ Blogger Award, I have:

The privilege of thanking the person who passed on the award;

The duty of writing seven things about yourself;

The honor of passing the award to 7 blogs.

So here it goes for both:

Rule#2:

1.  The only two theater movies I’ve ever walked out of were The Fly(1986) and District 9 (2009). I wish I had left Pet Sematary (1989) – which disturbed my dreams for weeks – but I was on a date and too shy to demand we get out of there. Obviously, I hate gore.

2.  I have narrow feet. It’s hard to find shoes! If not for online shopping at Easy Spirit, Naturalizer, and Zappos, I would have to hire a cobbler to craft shoes to fit my skinny feet.

3.  I am adamant that the toilet paper should unfurl over not under. If you try to pull the T.P. from underneath, it can start a tissue avalanche and you end up with a heap on the floor. Wasted toilet paper. A shame!

4.  I collect matchboxes. It’s a little sad because I don’t get to add to it much. The collection began with my grandmother and was carried on by my sister and me. However, this was when smoking in public areas was common, and restaurants and businesses gave out matchbooks. It’s rare now. But I still like looking at the boxes and remembering places I’ve been.

5.  I hate coffee. When I drive through Starbucks, I order a peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream. It’s absolutely delicious!

6.  I’m determined to reintroduce the word “kench” back into the English language. It’s an obsolete term that means to laugh loudly. Isn’t it great? Y’all can help by throwing it into conversation anytime you see an opportunity.

7.  I have a scar on my forehead from an injury when I was 5 years old. I was jumping on the bed (against my parents’ rule) and slammed into the door’s corner. Blood gushed all over my Mom’s white shirt as she picked me up, and I got several stitches in my head. No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

8.  I took a year of Italian in college, and the best thing about it is that I can pronounce everything on the Olive Garden menu with no problem. Ciao!

9.  I love roller coasters. My heart broke when Astroworld in Houston closed. Still, I haven’t ridden the Boardwalk Bullet – which is only 30 minutes away. It’s on my list.

Boardwalk Bullet, Kemah, Texas

10.  I live in Ron Paul’s congressional district. Make of that what you will.

Rule#3

It’s my turn to slap tap 4 blogger friends in this Writer’s Campaign game of tag and to deliver 7 bloggers the Kreativ Blogger Award.

Double Whammy Winners – Tagged for Writer’s Platform Building Campaign AND Kreativ Blogger Award:

Erin Brambilla – I adore reading Erin’s blog and seeing the way she expertly juggles mommyhood and authorship. She’s terrific at both!

Jolyse Barnett – Jolyse’s posts make me appreciate the beauty and joys of life. I can imagine Jimmy Buffet songs playing in the background. After all, it’s entitled Margarita Moments & Other Escapes.

Catie Rhodes – Another favorite blogger who tells true crime and paranomal like no other! Catie also throws in fun posts about movies and more. Check out her Full-Tilt Backwoods Boogie blog.

Julia King – Her Writing Jewels blog has a perfect balance of writing, reading, and Julia herself. Check out this young adult author.

Kreativ Blogger Winners – Tagged for a Kreativ Blogger Award:

Jennifer McCoy – Young adult author and fabulously stylish attendee at the #TambernyParty. Check out her blog with a book of the month and a movie of the week.

Amanda Bozeman – Romantic suspense author who writes about this and that on her Danger and Dancing blog.

Anne-Mhairi Simpson – Young adult fantasy author who blogs about health, books, and interviews.

Tamberny Awards Virtual After Party

Amber & Tiffany

In case you missed it, you haven’t really missed it! Amber West and Tiffany A. White hosted a Tamberny Awards show with their picks for the Emmys. I am hosting the Virtual After Party for this event. See more details at my post: I’m Throwing an After Party! You’re welcome to continue posting anything Emmy or Tamberny related on Twitter with the hashtag #Tambernyparty.

By the way, I had not seen most of the televisions shows nominated for Emmys. However, I was doing a happy dance when Downton Abbey received awards because that show was wonderful! You can watch season one on Netflix.

What did you enjoy most about the Emmys?

Wednesday Words: Rock Band Names

If you want to have a lot of fun with words, learn to play a musical instrument, form a band, and then name it! One of the interview questions I want asked of bands is how they chose their name. Were they inspired by a person, a place, or a thing? Did they choose it out of a hat or consider the possibility for hours on end before arriving at their moniker? Did one person name it or did all of them agree?

Some band names are rather straightforward – like Heart, Train, and Alabama. Others are a mouthful like Credence Clearwater Revival or Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Here are a few curious rock band names and the origin of those names:

10,000 Maniacs– Originally The Burn Victims, the band changed its name to 10,000 Maniacs based on the low-budget flick Two Thousand Maniacs. According to one source, Steven Gustafson said none of them had seen the 1964 horror movie and thought the title was 10,000 Maniacs.

ABBA – ABBA is an acryonym for its four members: Agnetha, Benny, Björn, and Ani-Frid. It’s catchy and means “father” in Aramaic.

Butthole Surfers– I hate this band name, but you do wonder where they got it. It’s based on an early song they did with the same title. The band called themselves many irreverent or even offensive names and eventually stuck with this one.

Def Leppard –Originally called the Atomic Mass, Joe Elliott joined the band as vocalist and suggested changing the name to Deaf Leopard – which he had come up with at school. Joe also changed the spelling to match up with Led Zeppelin’s name – you know, misspelling.

Duran Duran –This 1980s band was named after the villain in the movie Barbarella, starring a scantily-dressed Jane Fonda. Dr. Durand Durand is the inventor of the Positronic Ray. I have no idea what happened to the extra D’s when the band adopted his name.

Foo Fighters– World War II pilots from the United States War described anomalous balls of light they saw flying alongside them at high altitudes as “Foo Fighters,” based on the Smokey Stover comic strip phrase, “Where there’s Foo, there’s fire.” So essentially, the Foo Fighters are named after UFOs.

Hootie & the Blowfish – Hootie & the Blowfish were named after two friends of lead singer Darius Rucker – one of whom looked like an owl and the other who had fat cheeks.

Led Zeppelin– When Jimmy Page formed the band, Keith Moon, The Who’s drummer, commented that the band would go down “like a lead balloon.” Band member John Entwhistle remarked that it would be more like a “lead zeppelin.” The spelling of the first word was changed, presumably to prevent anyone from mispronouncing it “leed.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd– Lynyrd Skynyrd is a butchering of the name Leonard Skinner, a gym teacher at Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville, Florida, where three of the band members attended. Apparently, Mr. Skinner did not appreciate long hair and sent each of these boys to the principal, resulting in their suspension. All those y’s were used to avoid the legal trouble involved with matching his name too closely.

Mr. Mister –Why the two misters? It was an inside joke about the Weather Report’s album Mr. Gone ,in which there are references to Mister This and Mister That. Then it simply became Mr. Mister.

Nickelback –Thank Starbucks for this one. Before stardom, band member Mike Kroeger worked at the local coffee shop. Whenever a customer ordered a $1.45 coffee and handed over $1.50, he had to give them a nickel back.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys chose their name by combining various words Andy had written out as part of song ideas and lyrics.

Pink Floyd –Pink Anderson and Floyd Council were two blues men who inspired founding member Syd Barrett.

Smashing Pumpkins– Seriously, I could not get a straight answer on this one. The band has given various responses to the question, none of them making any more sense than the “Smashing Pumpkins” moniker itself. Does anybody out there know?

The Grateful Dead– Originally called the Warlocks, that name was being used by another band also. Presumably, Jerry Garcia found the phrase “grateful dead” in a dictionary one night, which refers to a spirit who is thankful to a living person who has helped him find peace. From the Egyptian Book of the Dead: “Amidst the sullen darkness, there shown a solitary light. For it is known ‘neath the sands of the pharaohs that deep in the land of night, the ship of the sun is drawn by the grateful dead.”

Thompson Twins– Growing up, I could never figure this one out since there were three of them and no one was a twin. But the band is named after Thompson and Thomson, Scotland Yard detectives in a Belgian comic bookseries called The Adventures of Tin-Tin. Though not related,the two fictional characters are at times referred to as twins.

Three Dog Night– Vocalist Danny Hutton’s girlfriend saw a documentary on indigenous Australians who used the expression “three dog night” to refer to a night so cold, one needed to sleep with three dogs to stay warm. Appropriately, the band had three lead singers.

ZZ Top – It has been theorized that they were named after two brands of cigarette rolling papers – Zig Zag and Top. However, guitarist Billy Gibbons stated that it was a combination of blues men Z.Z. Hill and B.B. King which led him to ZZ King, and then – figuring that B.B. King was on top – ZZ Top.

What band names do you like? Have you ever considered what you would name a band? Do you like knowing the origin of band names? Be sure to also check out Erin Brambilla’s post on What Would You Name Your Punk Band? with a link to a band name generator.

Monday Musings: The Versatile Blogger Award

My sincerest thanks to the talented Tracey Hansen who nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award. I strongly encourage you to visit her at her blog, Tracey Hansen Will Write for Food. Tracy’s razor-sharp wit is either the stuff of brilliance or a masked cry for help. I totally vote the former! Check her out.

The rules for this award are as follows:

1.       Thank and link to the person who nominated you. 
2.       Share seven random facts about yourself.
3.       Pass the award along to 5 new-found blogging buddies.
4.       Contact the winners to congratulate them.

Seven random facts about me:

1.   My eclectic music taste means that I have songs from Dean Martin, Nirvana, TobyMac, Martina McBride, ABBA, Olivia Newton-John, John Mellencamp, Christina Aguilera, Van Halen, and Doris Day on my MP3 player. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

2.   I have narrow feet, making it particularly hard to buy trendy shoes.

3.   The only bone I’ve ever broken is my pinkie toe.  I did have some trendy flip-flops after that incident.

4.   I’m a preacher’s daughter – along with Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Pearl S. Buck, Aretha Franklin, Jessica Simpson, Condoleezza Rice, Tori Amos, and Katy Perry.

5.   I have started a young adult novel about vampires . . . as if the world needs my offering to this genre.

6.   My children have designated me “Grammar Freak.”  I think that’s hyperbole.

7.   I have two, three, okay, four cats.  We selected two cats and brought them home, and apparently if you feed them, name them, and groom them, the two strays become yours.

Here are my 5 nominations for The Versatile Blogger Award:

Amanda Bozeman

Erin Brambilla

Keli Gwyn

Melanie Bacom

Xandra James