Friday, March 30, 2007

The pits.

You smell that? That alluring scent of sweaty lavender? That would be me.

When I hit age twelve and my body started betraying me, I had lots of gripes. Itchy bras, bloody razored ankles, bloody other things. And then there was evil antiperspirant. First applied to my tender armpits one fateful morning in 1988, it has maintained a liquidproof seal day and night since. It seemed that no matter how many times I scrubbed and lathered, I could never completely penetrate that anti-sweat forcefield. You might ask, "Why would you wish to tear down that blessed dam -- that space-age triumph over glandular tyranny??! It's all that stands between us and the French!"

These are intelligent questions, and I have no sane answers. I'm no rabid evangelizing granola. I lose no sleep over the longterm effects of the bazillion carcinogens lurking in my non-organic lima beans. I can't shop often at Wild Oats because the orthodox shoppers there are too funny and I get a tummy ache trying to suppress my laughter. But somehow it made me vaguely nervous to shut down a normal body process for decades at a time.

Of course I still used the stuff -- how could I not? I'm a hardcore sweat-er (maybe YOU ladies glow, but this girl PERSPIRES). And while I believe that my body is a temple, it can't be allowed to blow my chances at snagging a man. I figured once this sweet-smelling she-temple had achieved its temple wedding, perhaps it could test the limits of love with a sweaty revolution. But not before.

Then recently a friend told me that she was an Anti-antiperspirant. She explained that her mother wouldn't allow the stuff in the house because some believed it increased the risk of breast cancer. I had never heard this before. My ordinary response to such non-traditional health advice would be, "you only live once -- why sweat the details?" (har) But my longtime unease with antiperspirant was fed by her dark tales. I did some online research: The Man insisted that there were no proven ill effects of using the stuff, and The New Age Holistic Cabin Dwellers insisted that it was the single greatest threat to womankind. Being a reasonable, levelheaded sort, I decided to shrug off science and obey my fear.

That is how I found myself in the Wild Oats, staring at their remarkable collection of not-tested-on-bunnyrabbits deodorants. (Poor stinky bunnyrabbits!) You had your funky Swedish miracle crystal deodorant, but I'd read it can give you a rash. You had your delicate Burt's Bees deodorant mist, but I knew that my man-sized perspiration problem called for something stronger. Soon I was overwhelmed and decided to abandon reason and go with my gut. My gut said, "Lavender smells great. Get one that smells like lavender." So I did. Tom's of Maine lavender deodorant.

How could I go wrong, choosing that lovely, "natural" lavender for my new signature scent? See the first line of this post.

The poor results have been a bit discouraging, as I have to reapply the stuff two or three times a day. But I can't say I'm ready to abandon this little experiment just yet, though I expect that if it's already beginning to fail in the early spring, I'll be unfit for polite society by mid-June. My friends, tired of the Pavlovian retching they experience whenever they pass a lavender bush, will cut all ties with me. I will never marry, but will be fondly labeled The Sweaty Lavender Cat Lady by the neighborhood tikes. My perfect, cancer-free breasts will go to the grave unappreciated by any man.

Who knew hygiene could be such a drama?

Knowing my sheepish qualities, I expect I'll rejoin the herd very soon. But in the meantime I will try to live by the pheromonic philosophy of my beloved Geggy Tah:

Ha hot honeymoon
Cupid had a harpoon
Cupid's not a cartoon
Cupid really works and sweats.
Sweat is the perfume of lovers
Sweat is the best perfume
Sweat is the perfume of love...

Come to me, my stinky White Night, and we shall ride together into the sulfurous sunset!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Collateral lines???!

If you're not LDS, don't bother reading this posting -- it's written in Mormonese.

Most of you know that I'm big into family history and that my job is in genealogy. So when the new issue of the Ensign appeared, I turned right to the cover story on family history. I figured it would be another faith-promoting story about miraculously finding needed information about a direct-line ancestor when all traditional genealogical avenues had been searched in vain. But no -- it's an article encouraging us to research collateral lines!!! This is huge. This changes everything. Finally all those long-ago spinsters will rejoin the human family!

Apparently Elder Packer mentioned researching collateral lines several years ago, but I don't remember hearing anything about it in mainstream LDS family history circles since then. I thought if you left your direct line ancestors and went off on a collateral line (i.e. going any further out than the children of a direct ancestor) you weren't fulfilling your responsibilities. But the article suggests that if you've come to a time or place for which there are no surviving records for direct ancestors, it's perfectly fine to branch out to grandchildren and great-grandchildren of direct ancestors, and not just for the purpose of trying to find new information on your direct ancestors.

The Seventy in charge of the Family and Church History department came to speak at our stake FHE this last Monday and he hinted that the Church has decided that doing temple work for extracted names is creating too many problems (baptisms and endowments get done, but families don't get assembled properly so they can be sealed). So my guess is that this new Ensign article represents their solution. If they open up collateral lines for members' personal research, it will provide the quantity of names required to keep all these new temples supplied with names for those temple patrons who come without a family name, and at the same time will ensure that people are not baptized and endowed and then left floating out there in space, unattached to spouses, parents, and children.

This is great stuff. One of the most meaningful family history experiences I ever had was researching a collateral relative -- a great-great-great-great-great aunt who died unmarried and childless. She was the caretaker of both of my great-great-great-great-great grandparents at the end of their lives. In her last years she was cared for by her nephew. Now I can add him to the family!

Oh, one last thing. I'm going to the Family History Library at least once every two weeks. If you live outside the SLC area and would like me to look up anything in the Library for you, let me know. And if you live in my area and need help with your family history (or just want a genealogy buddy), contact me and we can coordinate times. I'm looking at Wednesday nights or Saturday mornings.

Gotta stop blogging and start researching. I smell dead people -- let the hunt begin! Goodiegoodiegoodie!

Monday, March 19, 2007

One more reason to shop D.I.

An Antiques Roadshow fairytale tonight. Guy driving to the Roadshow spots a yard sale, and like most antiques junkies can't (doesn't) resist. Stops for a few minutes to browse and buys a chair for $2 that "looks old" and is in pretty good condition. Takes it into the Roadshow with no idea of its value and one of the furniture-appraising Bobsey twins starts a-drooling. Turns out his "old-looking" $2 chair is a Chippendale from the 1700s and is worth $1,500.

I shop D.I. primarily because I'm cheap, but I confess there's also the lure of one day finding the original copy of the Mayflower Compact hibernating beneath the heap of Captain & Tenille vinyls.

Don't laugh. I believe in flea market fairytales.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

She chortled in her joy.

I love your limericks, ye loony laddies and lassies!

Nice rhyme sets: John, Don Juan, pants on; donators, taters, tomaters; Sandy, dandy, randy; Spoke, joke, choke; stole them, molemen; Louise, seas, buoys; Marvin, carvin', starvin'.

Great themes, too -- vain men who forget their pants and busty babes demonstrating their natural flotation devices (nice little dashes o' bawdy, there!); a squeaky-clean limerick ABOUT writing naughty limericks; the comic violence of Wabbit v. Martian, pirate v. telephone pole, and leprechaun v. lawnmower; my little brother's lice problem as reported by one of his students; and a lovely jab at our Idiot-in-Chief.

Oh, man. This is hard. Why did I set this up as a contest? I knew I had clever friends and family, and how accurately did I think I was going to be able to measure my laughter? This is like being a judge in the Limerick Olympics, with measurements down to the milligiggles.

I know what you're saying. "Don't flatter yourself we're that into your silly contest, Marie -- especially with such a lame prize." I know, I know -- I'm just projecting myself onto you. The only thing I think I'm very good at is writing, so I get competitive in writing contests.

To make my job easier, I ruled out all limericks that strayed from the standard meter. Of the three that remained, the one that I thought had the cleverest rhyme was the one by Patrushka:

How happy the Kiva donators
As they lend to the man selling taters!
Now he can expand -
With our helping hand
He can purchase a box of tomaters!

So contact me, Patrushka, [adazzle (dot) dim (at) gmail (dot) com] so I can send you the book!

Should Patrushka fail to perform his/her duties as Lord-High Limerick Writer, his/her little green hat will pass to the two runners-up:


There once were a martian named Marvin,
Who always was fixin' on carvin'
A Rabbit so sweet
And with humor, to beat,
But we all knows he'll be long a starvin'

Anonymous (Steve? Kelly? write and let me know who you are):

There once was a blogger from Sandy
Who thought writing lim'ricks was dandy
She stewed and she stewed
But it all came out lewd
And her friends ran off, yelling, "Too randy!"

For more laughs, here are the winners of this year's Deseret News Limerick Contest. My dad shamelessly tried to pass them off as his own:

Oh, look, it's a sad orange cone,
It looks lost, and afraid, and alone.
No wait, there's its brother,
And another, and another,
I'm surrounded, they're starting to clone!

I was cookin' ribs back on the deck,
When I stumbled, and near broke my neck.
Since I've vowed ne'er to curse,
I said nothing worse
Than, "Flip! What the scrud! Oh, my heck!"

Thanks again for participating, everyone (even you, Dad). Laughter is no small gift, and I thank'ee kindly from the bottom of my funny bone. May there be a pot of gold and/or a handsome Irish sailor at the end of your rainbow.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cloudy, with a chance of apocalypse.

One September day about twelve years ago I walked into my high school seminary class and who did I see but....

...the Channel 2 weather man.

Yep -- the broad-grinning stormtrooper from our local CBS-affiliate had sacrificed fame and fortune for this humble vocation so that he could spend more time with his kids. We all went "awww!" He was a hoot -- he'd draw a map of the Middle East on the board and then sweep his arm across it to indicate the Children of Israel descending upon the Land of Canaan like an incoming cold front. We all though he was a really great guy with a smile as blinding as God's justice.

So imagine my horror a few nights ago when I turn on the TV and what do I see but.... old seminary teacher on Fox News at Nine, doing the weather. FOX NEWS! Lord, give me strength -- he's gone to the Dark Side! His kids no doubt sit home fatherless, weeping as they watch their dear old dad play puppet to the darkest force of our time.

Revelation 13:1-3 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads, and those heads were seven shames, yea, namely Cops, American Idol, Judge Judy, Bones, 'Til Death, Fox News, and that stupid new gameshow with Jeff Foxworthy. And I, John, saw that House M.D. was repeatedly canceled by the anti-Christ and his minions. And I wept, yea, verily, even as our fathers did weep for Arrested Development. And so ended the world.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


The other day I was giggling at the music video of "LDN" as Lily Allen struggles to describe the sort of music she's looking for:

"I was wondering if you have any kinda like sort of punky, electronica.... kinda grime.... kinda like new wave grime.... kind of maybe like more broken beats.... like kinda dub-y broken beats, but a little bit kinda soulful? Like kinda drum & bass-y but kinda more broken drum & bass.... kinda broken beats but break-beat kinda broken drum & bass kinda....y'know what I mean?"

The record store employee stares at her blankly. Poor Lily.

This week the word galumph was one of Google's Words of the Day and seeing it there on display before the whole world reawakened my lifelong vanity quest to 1) find a naked idea in need of a word, 2) tailor the perfect word for it, 3) sit back enjoy the fame when my Perfect Word is canonized in the Oxford English Dictionary.

As you may know, Lewis Carroll coined two such words that now appear in every pocket dictionary: galumph, from "gallop" and "triumph," which means to lumber along in a joyful but clumsy way, and chortle, from "chuckle" and "snort," which means a snorting sort of laugh. I know what you're thinking: "However did we cope before we had words for these things??" It is indeed hard to imagine such a dark time. Of course, Lewis Carroll is nothing to Shakespeare, who is the first written source for a bazillion words we use today, but I'm excluding Shakespeare from the present discussion because it's way too easy to launch new words when the greatest ruler of the Western World is one of your groupies.

Elizabeth R: "Dispatch a Proclamation: all Christian gentlemen shall employ the word 'kickie-wickie' when insulting their wives. This on pain of death."

Royal Proclaimer: "Yes, Your Majesty. Pray, how dost thou spell 'kickie-wickie'?"

Unfortunately, I'm not chummy with any monarchs and my invented words have fallen flat. For instance, a cousin was trying to describe the mix of infatuation and caring she felt for a guy she was dating. I suggested she was feeling smitterpated (smitten and twitterpated at the same time). I got a courtesy laugh, but the word never made another appearance in her love stories.

I also invented a word for a friend spending a semester in Taiwan. In her letters she described the discomfort of sleeping on the unadorned board that was her bed. In my reply I proudly unveiled the word mattresslessness to describe her sad state, but again, no go. I grant that it's not a very useful word unless you go camping a lot. But maybe people could use it figuratively? As in "I'm tossing and turning on the mattresslessness of solitude?" C'mon -- someone throw me a bone.

Of course, according to Humpty Dumpty, "real" meaning is irrelevant. He recommends you find a word you like and use it to mean anything and everything. However, if you go this route you should bear in mind that there are strings attached:

'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master -- that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'

So if you're independently wealthy, just pick a word and go with it. I recommend something impressive-sounding, like lugubrious.

My crazy aunts and uncle invented an elaborate childhood language that didn't die as they grew up -- rather they added new words over the years to give a goofy sparkle to the yicky bits of adulthood. For example, you had your gibs which were little bits of unidentified nastiness and your aquagrogans which were the gifts small children add to the bathwater (but only if they float).

My uncle was especially good at coming up with just the right word for things. He disappeared a couple years ago and I was fortunate that fate gave us one last evening together just a few days before he was last seen. That night I was moaning to him about a situation at work. I was assigned to work with a particular coworker known for her attack-the-bleeding business techniques. Working with her had sent me spiraling into week after week of teeth-grinding, tummy-aching nightmares, and I felt I was going to snap under the pressure of trying to appease her. My uncle listened sympathetically to my tales of woe and then said, "You ever watch those National Geographic shows? She sounds like the big nasty head gorilla in a gorilla tribe. The one they call the alpha-male, y'know? So I guess that would make her the alpha-b****?"

The Perfect Word. In the weeks that followed it floated me, silently giggling, through many a three-alarm showdown at work. It was his last gift to me, and what a beaut. Wherever you are, Uncle Greg, this post's for you. God bless your lugubrious* soul.

*Here, lugubrious means "uniquely witty, with a twist of lime."

Friday, March 02, 2007

There once was a battle o' limericks...

I am not Irish, but like every good American, I wish I were. I want it all -- the red hair, the pipes and fiddles, the little green men, the famine and despair and civil war.... okay, not everything. But definitely the playful, lilting language.

So I hereby kick off the first annual St. Patrick's Day Limerick Contest. The entry that makes me laugh the hardest will win a copy of the complete limericks and nonsense poems of the King of Limericks, Edward Lear. You don't think you want it, I know. But I promise you -- you do!


--Contest ends Friday, March 16 at 5:00 pm, Pacific time (the day before St. Patrick's Day).
--Your limerick can be a bit naughty, but not too naughty. Use your own judgment in defining that line.
--Finding clever rhymes for difficult words will win you extra points.
--Enter as many limericks as you want.
--Feel free to enter as "Anonymous." However, if an anonymous participant wins and more than one of you claims to be that person, we'll have to do the old King Solomon cutting-the-prize-in-half trick.
--No matter how funny, a limerick will probably not win if it doesn't follow the traditional limerick meter and rhyme pretty closely. Can't remember what that is? Click here for a refresher course.

For example, here's one I wrote to cheer a friend who was going crazy at his job:

There once was a swell guy named Stephen
Whose toils did cause him much grievin'
He cursed at the sky
And hollered "Why I?"
Then promptly took up basketweavin'.

So knock back a pint and let rip a limerick for old Eire. And if not for old Eire, do it for lil' ol' me. I love to laugh, and so does my inner leprechaun.

Yea, verily, the astroturf is white, already to harvest.

Last Sunday after church I chatted with the supervisor of the Missionary Committee, of which I am a member:

"Hi! When's our next meeting?" I ask.

"A week from Monday," he replies. "We need to choose a theme for our miniature golf hole."


"The Activities Committee wants us to be in charge of one hole of the miniature golf course they're building. That's why we need to meet next week."

"Ooookay. Kinda gimmicky. So what're they after? 'The Windmill of Faith' or something like that?"

[Uncomfortable silence, entirely devoid of bemusement.]

"Well all righty, then. Count me in!"

[Exit Marie, stage right.]

I want to be loyal. And I love that my church is staffed entirely by ordinary folk. And I know it's not easy being in charge. And I'd rather take orders any day than have to run the game and get mocked on other people's blogs. But someone really should raise the This-Is-a-Big-Fat-Waste-of-Time alarm. Or else the Enough-With-All-the-Elaborate-Activities-Already-and-Let's- Have-a-Good-Old-Fashioned-Service-Project alarm. Will you please do it for me? I'm too yella.

However, granted all the time and papier mache in the world, I would sculpt a lifesized Mormon missionary to stand astride our assigned golf hole. He would look a wee bit grumpy and his name tag would say Elder Ihavebetterthingstodoandsodoyou.

A post-post post: Okay, I get it. No comments = I'm a big jerk. As it turns out, this golf activity was concieved by the Family Home Evening Committee (not the Activities Committee) and their requested contribution from our committee was not as big as I'd imagined -- a few empty tuna cans ("fishers of men," lest you wonder) and we're off the hook. I still do worry a bit about the culture that develops in these LDS singles' wards, though. There are so many ablebodied helpers in proportion to the number of Official Tasks that we just start adding details and embellishments in order to keep everyone occupied and soon we're living in Neverland. Maybe they should invent a special singles' ward calling: "all-purpose on-call do-gooder," and send them forth to find damsels in distress and old ladies that need help across the road.