This is not a shameless bid for attention

Oh, who am I kidding. This is 2012 and this is the Internet. It’s all about the attention, baby

Today’s my birthday, and in a Facebook World that means everyone you’ve ever gazed for some unspecified minimum of time — both in actual real life and cyberspace — qualifies for Friend Status and thus wishes you Happy Birthday.

This gives you the totally misguided notion that all these people actually remember your birthday, have it marked on their Cute Kitties wall calendar, and count down the days mentally til the day they can joyously wish you feliz cumpleaños, joyeux anniversaire, or 생일.

This year is not a Significant birthday, except in  my own little mind. For it is, dear readers, the last year I can claim a “4” in the tens place, the last year before what I’ve fondly decided to call the F Word enters my life, and the last year before I am required to submit to the regular maintenance indignity perpetrated upon the American public known as the colonoscopy.

Ah, that’s a fun thing to read with your morning coffee, no?

And seriously, I do not mind growing old, for I have my own personal old fart to grow old with. He’s a decade my senior, and like most Baby Boomers, has experienced every nuance of aging long before I ever got there, and so by this time, the whole thing is old hat. Gray hair? Yes, he’s got that in abundance, and he cheerfully reminds me how ever so much grayer it is since the day he married me. Some gray hairs have crept into my coif too, but I like to think of them as cheap highlighter, and pretend that I look this way on purpose.

Today I plan to do what I do best, which is crack jokes and preside as editor of a publication. I’ve been informed there will be an departmental Birthday Lunch and I have indicated I will attend. I am wearing with wild excitement the birthday gift Mr. Gray Hair presented me with this morning, a deliciously blingie  snake rope necklace, and, as always I am clad in cowboy boots.

My children are healthy, I’ve got a roof over my head, and there are doughnuts in the world. Happy birthday to me!

A news nerd in an ‘Avengers’ world

Several years ago I was appalled when I kept hearing what seemed like to me, lighthearted reviews of a new film. There was even talk of it being a musical, which I simply could not believe. How, I wondered, could you make a musical about war starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor?

The movie in question was, of course, 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, a far cry from the musical I had imagined depicting the atrocities committed by the notorious Cambodian Communist Party led by Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge.

Not a Khmer in sightReally, how could you even make that kind of a mistake? Even given that I’m a semi Broadway geek, at that? I chalk it up to a life more or less in the news business. As a former reporter and college political science major, it’s just in my nature to keep up with current events, even when I’m not particularly keeping up with current events. This happens frequently during Big News Stories. After a solid week of tsunami coverage, though something like this is intensely interesting, important, and grave, I still get on overload and take a break from daily NPR, CNN, and Facebook friends’ updates. Consequently I miss other stories that they manage to squeeze in between Snooki and Tan Mom updates.

So recently I began to hear about the new movie, The Avengers. I don’t actually go to the movie theater all that often any more. A month or so ago we ventured out to the art-house cinema here and saw The Artist, the Academy-Award winning silent film. Loved it. Before that — eh. I can’t remember. Probably something Cohen-related.

But the point is when I heard “Avengers,” my mind again went totally elsewhere. Namely, to cat suits and bowler hats. Yes, I was expecting a remake of the 1960s British television series with the awesome clothes. If I could be said to aspire to anything when I was under the age of 10 years old, I probably wished I could be Emma Peel in skin-tight clothing, dangerous-looking boobs, and a gun. When I wasn’t wishing I had my own horse, naturally.

Like when reality finally dawned and I didn’t expect to see Nicole Kidman in the jungles of Cambodia, at some point I realized that this new Avengers movie wasn’t going to be about Mr. Steed and a lady with the awesome rack. No, there was too much yapping on the Internet about it. Oh sure, I do have plenty of geeky friends online, but “avengers” seemed to be a bit too prominent on a bit too many lips. I wasn’t hearing anything like “the new Diana Rigg” for instance.

She's got man appeal. Emma Peel. Get it?

Then the teen crowd began to get involved and I knew my assessment of the situation was rather, shall we say, off base. Midnight showings? Tickets purchased in advance? Behavior for The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, maybe. Not the revival of an ancient (to them) TV series featuring English eccentricities with a side of science fiction, fantasy and fighting crime.

But hey, it more or less pegs me for who and what I am, when I make these hare-brained assumptions. I know pop culture, but it’s my pop culture. Call me if you need market research on the nerdy preferences of a Southern/midwestern white lady of a certain age. Just keep me out of the jungles of Southeast Asia if at all possible.

* * *

And yes, I totally want Diana Rigg’s boots. As if you didn’t know.

Tales of a stealth mom

I heard a story on Morning Edition on NPR today that made me think, for the first time, that being an FBI agent might be an awful lot like being a mother.

The story was on “Tac Ops,” or tactical operations, which involves bugging, searching, or otherwise legally creeping around people’s homes and offices to gather information. The interview, which you can find here, featured an author who had interviewed these operatives and found out how they go about their covert business.

The mom/FBI Agent connection came near the end of the story, where the poorly timed death of an agent in the middle of an operation was detailed. What happened was the poor man died from heart failure in the middle of an oriental rug in a foreign embassy, with the resultant unfortunate mess that often occurs to the human body when it expires.

The creative operatives rolled up the rug and whisked it to an all-night D.C. cleaners, who promptly returned it to a more pristine state. It was, however, still wet. The agents solved that immediately — they simply painted a faux water stain on the ceiling directly above the wet carpet.

This is the kind of ingenuity we mothers with damp, smelly children have been employing since our water broke.

What mother of diapered dozens doesn’t have a cache of wipies in her bag, or even purse? These things could conquer the world. I remember another woman telling me once they’re even perfect for cleaning ceiling fans. Spit-up, leaking diaper contents, actual bottom clean up: there’s not much these things can’t do. Hail the Huggie wipe.

Another amusing tidbit about the tac-op agents was their bag of goodies they bring along. Say they have to move something on a desk, disturbing the dust pattern that had accumulated since the criminals departed. No problem-o. They bring their own dust. Think about that a minute: they travel with dirt so that they can put a room back to rights after they’ve gone over it with a fine-tooth comb for evidence. I once heard dust referred to by a particularly harried mother as the “protective coating” on her furniture. I’d love to know if there’s any way you can test for the authenticity of a room’s dust. We know (via This is Spinal Tap) that you can’t dust for vomit. I wonder if you can dust for dust.

The bag of tricks also apparently includes small, high-powered vacuum cleaners, to suck up the evidence that walls were penetrated to hide bugs, and some sort of high-tech paint-matching chemicals, for smoothing over the destruction of hiding things in people’s walls.

At home, the Stealth Mom merely moves a recliner or love seat and bam! all evidence of a toddler’s creativity after finding a deep-blue Sharpie is erased. Or say an actual bug or spider met his demise halfway up the dining-room wall. Well, that painting would look better on that wall anyway, now wouldn’t it?

I’m reminded of the old Flintstones cartoon, which featured Wilma in a failed attempt to hang a picture on the stone wall of her Bedrock hut. Predictably, the wall cracked in all directions the instant she hammered in the nail. No problem; Wilma the FBI Agent/Mother immediately painted leaves and flowers along the cracks, creating a unique mural that enhanced her lovely home.

Perhaps the Stealth Mom/FBI agent tie isn’t so surprising, come to think of it. After all, moms are women, aren’t we? Hear us roar! Even if we’re slumping around the house, picking up after children in our jammies or sweat pants, inside all of us are June Cleaver in pearls, daintily following the vacuum cleaner in high heels. I seem to recall rumors that J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed the same sort of attire.

Isn’t that darling? The FBI is one of us.

Prayers for Alabama

After yesterday’s post dealing with my completely non-dangerous non-encounters with tornadoes, I’m feeling a little ashamed of myself.

While I was thinking up the most humorous way to describe the tornado warnings here in Kentucky, the people of northern Alabama were dealing with a real, actual tornado that has killed upwards of 200 people and destroyed, from what I can tell, pretty much the entire city of Tuscaloosa.

I know my tens of readers will join me in offering prayers for the people there. Donate to the American Red Cross, which provides relief to those hit by natural disasters. Offer help personally, if you are able.

It’s not much of a sweet home in Alabama this morning. Here’s hoping for better days ahead.