Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eat a Worm, Save the Planet

Can we talk about the ORGANIC craze, now that it appears to be waning somewhat?  Yes, let's.  I have never understood how the marketers managed to get so many people to believe that it's acceptable to be paying way more for what seems to me to be way less.  I'm here to call bullshit on the ORGANIC movement, ok?  Wait, so many levels of strange here, because bullshit itself is in fact an ORGANIC, chemical free form of fertilizer, but I'm getting off track before I even got ON track.

Having lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, which is prime apple producing country, we have fond memories associated with apple orchards.  We jumped at the chance to go apple picking in California.  I had visions of a fun day of picking apples and coming home with a huge cheap supply of fresh apples to make apple pies, and apple sauce, and apple turnovers, all apple everything, all the time.  Fresh. Cheap.

We arrived in Yucaipa, ready to make it happen.  The only orchards we could find were "ORGANIC" orchards, which meant we would be paying a bit more, but these were flippin' ORGANIC APPLES, so you type it in all caps and you pay more for them.  This is the rule of ORGANIC stuff, and we were ok with that. Paying slightly more for your apples is a small price for saving the planet, HELLO.   As we were walked to the orchard, the farm hand explained to us how no pesticides were used on the fruit, and that was why we would be finding worms and other undesirable things in the apples.  Apparently, these worms IN NO WAY affected the quality of the apples (??? By whose definition?) and that we could merely eat around the worm holes or cut the worms out.  HUH?  Well, sure enough, the apples were disgustingly full of worms and it cost about $10 for a small bag of organic apples, that we had to pick ourselves.  I didn't make any pies and I didn't eat very many of them because the worm thing was just too gross and I'm only now able to talk about it without becoming annoyed all over again.

I recalled that story as I walked through Ralph's today and saw the "Crazy Bugs Macaroni and Cheese Dinner."  Yes, that's right kids, organic freakin' Mac Cheese. "Back to Nature", it says on the box.  It's so completely natural and organic, the pasta is shaped like caterpillars and bees!!!!!  I had to take a picture because nobody would believe me if I said they named an actual worm shaped food item "Crazy Bugs Macaroni and Cheese Dinner", but shut up, they absolutely did.  My head is about to explode from how ridiculous it is and now I must take to my bed with a martini to make sense of it.  That would be a martini with 3  worm free olives.  Thank you and good night.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I am the Lord of the Dance, said She.

My husband and I have a dirty little secret: we can't dance. "HUH?", you say. "But aren't you Malaysian Dance Champions?" Well, yes actually, we are and therein lies the problem. That title has brought such high expectations of us, we feel compelled to live up to the honor. Truth be told, it was a drunken night of dance floor gyrations in Southeast Asia that resulted in the undeserved title, and I need to come clean about that false victory...

We had gone to visit our master franchisee in Kuala Lumpur and it just happened to be during Chinese New Year. They pulled out all the stops for us, including hiring dragon dancers to perform for us, exotic lunches at the KL's finest restaurants, with the trip culminating in a wonderful dinner/dance on our last night there. Our hosts had no idea that Mike and I don't dance, can't dance, hate to dance, so you can imagine my surprise, shock, and horror when they told us that a Dance Contest was going to be the featured "entertainment" at this gala. I almost choked on my Blowfish Soup when I heard, but relaxed somewhat when Mike said that we probably weren't expected to dance, only be judges.

We arrived at the dinner and were delighted to find a nicely lit dance floor, a huge disco ball, and as the honored guests, seats at the head table. The Malaysian people are so gracious, even those who couldn't speak English made an effort to welcome us warmly. The evening was off to a great start until the Emcee told us that as the honored guests from "Amelica", WE would be starting off the dance contest. Perhaps they sensed our reluctance because from that point on, our wine glasses were never empty. As soon as our glasses got half empty, they were miraculously filled again, and toast upon toast was made so we were forced to drink. We toasted to the Chinese New Year. We toasted the franchisee and his employees. We toasted the Petrona Towers and the Strait of Malacca. We even toasted Elvis and the disco ball. I understand now that they were merely supply us with liquid courage for when WE became the entertainment.

By the time the dessert was served, we were ready to boogie. The Emcee announced the beginning of the dance contest. "And NOW, from the Unites States of Amelica, help me welcome our honored guests to the dance floor -- Mike and Sue CASS-I-D-D-YYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!" The applause was thunderous and as we rose to our feet, somewhat unsteadily I will admit, we OWNED that dance floor. I'm not sure if we started off swaying to the music, or swaying from the booze, but how can your feet stay still when the Beegees are wailing "Stayin' Alive." We were so into it. Mike's fists were going in tiny little circles at first, and then he shifted into John Travolta-esque fingers pointing intermittently at the ceiling and the floor. I think I looked like I was doing a modified "limbo", I don't know, but our arms and legs were flailing uncontrollably, and the crowd was going wild. The louder they cheered, the stupider our dance moves became. We did not move to the beat of the Beegees, but to the beat of whatever was in our rythmically challenged brains.

We must have made quite an impression because the next thing you know, people got up from their tables and joined us on the dance floor, mimicking our strange moves. They must have thought that our strange gyrations were the latest dance moves from Amelica and they were going to learn this new style, from the Lords of the Dance! As the music ended, we'd felt pretty good about our performance, because copious amounts of alcohol does that for you.

The rest of the contest was terrific, and the other contestants were fun to watch because they could actually dance. You can't imagine our suprise and disbelief when the trophies were handled out, that WE HAD WON! I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Mike owned the franchise system. We had some mad dance skills, clearly. We were presented with a 5 foot tall gift basket of dried seaweed, kelp flavored Pringles, dried and salted sardines, and other gastronomical delights.

The next morning we woke up with hangovers and a title: Malyasian Dance Champions. We've tried to live up to the title ever since, but nothing has ever topped that Cinderella Moment for us. We try to live up the "Dance, dance, wherever you may be..." philosophy. The last dancing we did was at a recent Quinceanera, but we were sober and the only Gringos on the dance floor. The mexican people are very gracious and nobody laughed at our attempts to dance to the latin beat of Banda music. I said all that to say this: That is why we are taking dance lessons. We have a reputation to uphold here, fercryin'outloud. We have to represent. I'll post the videos on youtube. Should you need a good laugh....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Don't Let the Dress Fool Ya, Fucker!

A couple of weeks ago, I headed up to Beverly Hills for a photo shoot with Drag Queen Extraordinaire, the fabulous Lady Vajayjay. Our goal was to have some fun on Rodeo Drive, taking pictures and spreading a bit of drag queen fabulosity on the unsuspecting public. It seems we got a little more than we bargained for!

The first part of our shoot went without a hitch. Dressed in purple satin majesty, she dazzled in diamonds at the Hotel Beverly Wilshire. Recreating the "Pretty Woman" walk up Rodeo Drive, she sashayed to cat calls from tour busses, and received applause from the store owners. "Is that RuPaul???" "Work it, Girl!" The tourists were thrilled to see this elegant LadyBoy, working her purple stilettos with her diva attitude in hyperdrive. Three different Rodeo Drive stores invited us in and allowed her to pose in their store front window displays. The Judith Leiber Store actually gave her a $4000 clutch purse to pose with, and Judith Leiber shopping bag to take home. So many people were clearly thrilled with the theatrics of it all. For a tourist from the mid west, short of a Tom Cruise sighting, this was AWESOME. It got annoying at one point because so many people wanted their pictures taken with her and we were losing light! It was during her second costume change that things went South....

She had changed into a bright yellow, mid drift showing, Carmen Miranda confection, complete with bright yellow hair, red trimmed ruffles, and red, high heeled ComeF**kMe pumps. Posing beside the lamppost on Via Rodeo, I got ONE shot away when a Russian security guard named "Anatoli" pounced on us and with derision and disgust in his eyes, said "You can't shoot here." HUH? I looked around at the 7 groups of tourists also taking photos and I said "Why not?" Barely able to contain his obvious dislike of a man dressed in women's clothing, he replied "Because this is private property. You have to leave." We calmly and politely pointed out the groups of people doing exactly what we were doing and asked why he was asking US to leave. He simply replied again that Via Rodeo was "private property" and we had to leave. That's when all hell broke loose because hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned. Lady Vajayjay is part Thai and part Puerto Rican and her Puerto Rico side exploded all over his Russian ass. "ARE YOU DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME? You are seriously discriminating against me?? This is the fucking UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in 2011 and you can't discriminate against me!" To that he replied that a permit is required for a commercial shoot and this was private property and he wanted us to leave immediately.

As a photographer, I know my rights and obligations, and I happen to know that he was 100% correct. I didn't have a permit and I don't have the right to shoot on private property if they don't want me to. I was ok with that, my objection was with the fact that he didn't even ask if I had a permit before he accosted us so rudely. We certainly didn't look like we were commercial photographers. I wasn't using strobe lights, reflectors, large lenses. I didn't have a stylist with me, make up people, assistants. We looked like every other tourist group taking pictures in Beverly Hills, except that I was taking pictures of a man in a dress. CLEARLY, this homophobic manly man was reacting to that element and his SELECTIVE enforcement of the "rules" were very obviously based on that fact. I still cringe when I recall the way that man looked at Lady V, with so much contempt and THAT is what put the fire in MY belly.

Needless to say, it wasn't pretty. As we left to move to the public sidewalk (while everyone else was allowed to continue taking photos ), Lady Vajayjay was spitting fire and venom. Her drama queen mouth was flappin' and her hands were flyin', she was PISSED! As she teetered up the cobblestone roadway, spouting off about discrimination and having served in the United States Navy and how she'd like to kick someone's ass, she yelled out, "Don't let the dress fool ya, FUCKER!!" When we got on to the public area of Rodeo Drive, out of site of the Russian Mafia, we waited to see if they would follow us. Sure enough, in the absence of the liquid courage a bottle of Stoli would provide, Russian Security had called for "back up" and TWO guards came to make sure we were not taking pictures on the perimeter. This was the final indignity, as if the fact that Lady Vajayjays false eyelashes falling off in the middle of her tirade against the Russian guard wasn't enough. We marched over to the new Goon, and I said, "I understand that you didn't make the rules and you are only trying to enforce them, but what I DON'T understand is your selective enforcement of the rules. Explain that to me, because it certainly looks like discrimination against this drag queen, disguised as rule enforcement." Refusing to be baited into a discussion, he asked if we would like to talk to the Via Rodeo management and then proceeded to escort us up Rodeo Drive and into the Management Offices.

The rest of the story doesn't need to be told in so much detail. Lady Vajayjay demanded to only speak to the top person in charge and then asked that we sit in their boardroom because "we need to DISCUSS THIS!!" As we played "good cop/bad cop", I was the voice of reason, and she was full of righteous indignation at her homophobic treatment. After some spirited discussion that involved me being calm and reasonable and Lady Vajayjay being hysterical and offering up an apology every time she said "FUCK", we left. We told them we wanted to file a formal complaint against the Russian security guard because we wanted his behavior noted in his file. Whether this was an "event" or a "pattern" would show up over time, and we just wanted it noted for the record. I found it quite interesting that the second security guard who escorted us to the offices, had a completely different demeanor. He treated Lady Vajayjay with respect during our "lamb to the slaughter" walk up Rodeo Drive, and didn't give off the homophobic vibe that Mr. Moscow Manly Man had.

By the time we finished registering our complaints, it was too late to take any more photos, so we headed back to the relatively welcoming arms of life behind the Orange Curtain. Who knew that conservative Orange County would be a welcome respite after that experience? Still, I'm glad that we didn't just roll over and take it in the a**, bad pun intended. Sometimes you have to stand between evil and innocent and perhaps our rather loud objections to being treated so shabbily will resonate with that security guard. I doubt he will ever change how he feels when he sees a man in a Carmen Miranda Clown Suit, but he may learn to treat that person with the respect he/she deserves as a human being. Thank you, Lady Vajayjay for taking such a vocal stand. It is the little battles that win the war.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg.

Now that Thanksgiving is past, I've moved directly into Christmas Music Season. This is the time when any street cred I've built up with my kids, as far as being a "cool Mom", goes directly to hell. I can listen to all the Katie Perry and Lady Gaga that I want, but as soon as I start spinning Dolly Parton and Kenny Roger's Christmas Album, it's all over. "Jesus, Mom. Do you have to play that crap? I want to shoot myself in the head." I'm not cool anymore, the cat is out of the bag. I revert to my snaggle toothed old self, an aging soccer mom who rocks out to Karen Carpenter instead of Lil' Wayne. Discuss:

WHY do we listen to Christmas music anyway? Enquiring young minds want to know. I THINK it is because Christmas is all about traditions, and christmas music brings us back to the fond memories of the past. When I play Jim Reeves, I think of my mother baking her Christmas Scotch cookies and I can almost smell them. When I hear "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree", I laugh and I dance, badly. I think of all the Christmas office parties of my past. Someone played that song and the vodka kicked in, and before you knew it, my bosses who normally had a stick up their conservative asses, were dancing, badly, with tinsel around their necks. "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" reminds me of how my sister who lived in Bermuda came home one Christmas and insisted we roast chestnuts, because living in a country without snow wasn't Christmasy enough. So many fond memories of my past are evoked from simply listening to cheesy Christmas music.

So how come MY kids aren't looking back at the Yuletide seasons of THEIR youth with similar warm and fuzzy feelings? "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" should invoke something pleasant in their minds. In retrospect, perhaps our impulsive, hormonally directed decision to do what we SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE under the Christmas tree. We THOUGHT the kids were in bed, our bad, so maybe that had something to do with their complete aversion to that song? "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" means nothing to kids who have never seen real snow. "Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your hearts be gay..." That means something different in this day and age.

Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations, in hoping that my kids will enjoy the trip down memory lane that these tunes evoke in me. I'll concede the point there. However, why must they try and wreck it for me? "Mom, every time you play 'Silver Bells", I throw up a little in my mouth. Stop it." "Mom, if you make me listen to Karen Carpenter singing "I'll be Home for Christmas", I'll run away, become anorexic and die from it, I swear I will."

So, What's a Mama to do? It's so not fair. I've tried to modernize a bit, but it isn't the same. I have the Barenaked Ladies Christmas cd and as clever as the lyrics are, it doesn't move me the way Kenny and Dolly can. Maybe I'll go online and see if Snoop Dog has any Holiday offerings, "Christmas Wrap" bad pun intended. In the meantime, I'll keep blasting my antiquated music and will continue to torture my kids with it. I know what they want for Christmas. They want just one, ONE truly "Silent Night". Word. From yo Mama.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rub a dub dub, Thanks for the Grub....

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I was thinking about all the things there are to be thankful for. I decided that this blog would be dedicated to how I THINK a few celebrities might be blessing their Thanksgiving Bird. Here is what I came up with:

From Snoop Dog:

Yo. Big Sky Pimp Daddy, Wuz up Homeslice? Snoop here, keepin' it real, Dawg. Big Props to da Big Dilly for da big mad eats we's about to r-o-o-o-o-ll wit'. Fo sheezy, Gahbless ma mama n' my baby mamma and my peeps, yo. Mo' props for m' life, makin' mad bank, it's all good y'all. It's the shit, the shizzy, coolio, off the chain, off the hizzle, fo' shizzle. Word, to yo Mama. Amen, Bro.

From Miss Teen South Carolina:

Father God, I personally believe that this food should be blessed, because U.S. Americans, Canadians, and like, people such as, don't have food. And our soldiers, like such as, in South Africa and the Iraq, I believe they should have good food too, so we can build up the future, and bring about World Peace. Thank you.

From Sarah Palin:

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, Yaweh, Prince of Peace, Son of God, Emmanuel, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Heavenly Redeemer, Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, Our Savior, Light of the World, Firstborn over all creation, Jesus, Mary, and Joesph, Mr. President. I'm sick and tired of Democrats who aren't thankful for what little they got. I'm sick and tired of politicians who think that a simple "thank you, God" is sufficient to show their gratitude. Lipstick on a pig, I'm tellin' ya. I frickin' went out and shot this here big ole' turkey myself, with a big honkin' 22 caliber rifle and I'm thankful that I still got the RIGHT in this flippin' country of ours to bear the arms that I shot 'er with. God, bless this food we are about to receive, and God, Bless, America....

From Oprah Winfrey:

Heavenly Father, I not-so-humbly ask that you bless this food we are about to receive. Bless the butter basted turkey, the homemade rolls with the yummy, crispy buttertops, the sour cream filled mash potaters, SWEET JESUS, bless those potaters. Did I mention the marshmellow and sweet potato casserole, God? Bless that to MY body, Lord, and keep Gail's grubby paws away from the string bean casserole with the delicious cream o' mushroom sauce, and crispy deep fried onions. Lord, bless the hands of my 17 servants, 4 personal chefs, 3 personal assistants, 2 make up artists, and my wardrobe people who made it all possible. And thank you Zacky Farms for donating this delicious turkey, which Gail and Stedman are about to partake in, only because of MY generosity and willingnesss to share the bounty of my sponsors. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAmen, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sue Cassidy:

I'm thankful for the many blessings in MY life. My terrific family, my health, my gifts and talents, and especially my friends. I'm so glad that I've been able to reconnect with the people from my past. Living in a country where I don't share any past history with anybody has been so ???????? wrong? Unsettling? I don't know the right word, but through the power of the internet, I've been able to talk daily with people I've grown up with, people I used to work with, people I used to play with and even people I've never met, but they still play a role in my life. If only because I get a laugh out of their facebook status, while standing in a long, boring line at the bank. I'm also thankful for the people who support and encourage my writing by forwarding my blogs to their friends, or by urging their people to read "Advice 5 Cents". I have a great life, I know it, and I'm very thankful for it.


copyright sue cassidy 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Doo Wah Diddy, Diddy Dum, Diddy Doo.

I was brought up in the 60's and 70's at the height of the feminist movement. I was taught that women can do anything that men can do and that women are NOT to be treated as sex objects. It really wasn't that long ago that women had to tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. There was no labor board to run to, the only choice was to "put out" or "get out". When I was young and cute, I was proud to be a part of the vocal minority who stood between evil and the innocent. I campaigned for gender equality and pity help the employer who DARED look anywhere below my chin when speaking to me. I pretty much scared the crap out of all of them, and sexual harassment was not an issue I ever had to deal with.

Fast forward 30+ years, I would love to be sexually harassed and can't find anyone who wants to harass me. I no longer have an ass you could crack an egg on, and my beauteous TaTas decided to run for the Southern border years ago. In my mind's eye, I fondly remember the group of construction workers who once sang to 20-year-old me as I walked past in a pair of cut off shorts: "There she was, just a'walkin' down the street--singin' doo wah diddy, diddy dum, diddy do...." I recall smiling at them, until I remembered I was supposed to be offended by that, and I put an appropriately dour expression on my face. That memory is but a delightful hairy dustball amidst the furniture of my mind. If there were a politician who lobbied on a platform of bringing back sexual harassment, I'd vote for them. If there were a fast food place that would promise to sexually harass me at the drive through, I'd drive through and through and through some more. If I could find an employer who would promise to pinch my butt at the copier machine every now and then, I'd freakin' work for free.

Oh, yeah, OK. Hear that noise? That is the sound of all my 20 something female readers, cocking their rifles ready to shoot me. THEY don't want to be sexually harassed and an attitude like mine is setting the woman's movement back 50 years, yeah, I hear ya. Easy for THEM to say, they haven't lost "it" yet. I understand though. Now, more than ever in the history of women's fashion, women dress more and more provocatively in the workplace, but expect less overt attention for it. (Don't miss my point here, if they are dressing that way, they want the attention, they just don't want the drama that could come with it.) On that note, I"m thinking that I should just stop talking now. "Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut", I always say. "A closed mouth gathers no feet", I always say.

The truth is, I embrace my inner granny. I realize that I HAD my turn being young and cute, and that not everybody gets a turn at being either of those things. We woman who are over 50 may not have "it" any more, but what we got instead is so much better. We now must take a turn at being wise and wonderful elders of our tribes. Still, a wolf whistle every now and then would be nice.

Sue Cassidy, 52 and fabulous.

Part 2 in a series.