Great Balls Of Portent

Every now and then I think to myself, “Diane, maybe it’s time you grew up. Seriously, you’re a fifty-year-old woman. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped snickering at farts and tasteless double entendres? Even teenagers aren’t as dirty-minded as you.”

And just about the time I take a deep breath and decide to squelch my baser nature and write nothing but G-rated blog posts forever more, something like this appears:

An anatomically correct building. And it’s Canajen, eh?

An anatomically correct building. And it’s Canajen, eh?

Yes, that is a real building: Newmarket Health Centre in Ontario, Canada, kindly brought to my attention by the CTV news team: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/aerial-view-of-anatomically-correct-newmarket-health-centre-sparks-jokes-worldwide-1.2254688.

I don’t care how innocent and/or politically correct you are, there’s only one thing that building resembles.

It was built in 1951 and nobody seems to recall who the architect was. He (I use the male pronoun because it seems the most probable) just couldn’t have drawn up those plans without recognizing the likeness. And the terracotta-coloured scrotum is the biggest joke of all – there’s no way that was accidental. It sticks out like a sore… um… never mind.

The architect probably thought he was safe in perpetrating his practical joke. After all, there was no Google Earth or satellite view available to the general public in the 50s. But now his puerile sense of humour is, erm, exposed, for all to see.

I think it’s hilarious, but remember I was innocent in this. I didn’t go looking for the likeness on my own – even I am not so twisted that I scour aerial maps in the hope of finding suggestively-shaped buildings. Nope; fate just dumped this article in my lap. So to speak.

Coincidence, right?

I think not.

Exactly a day after the Newmarket Man showed up in my news feed, my friend Chris sent me this:

Words fail me… Okay, no. It just begs for words.

Words fail me… Okay, no. It just begs for words.

Yes, they’re billed as “the tastiest balls you’ll ever put in your mouth”. And if you want to try ‘em, the recipe is here:  http://www.mtlblog.com/2015/02/poutine-poppers-are-the-mini-mouthgasm-you-need-to-eat-now/#

Needless to say, the tagline incited a few comments, largely focusing on the quantity of comparative research required in order to authoritatively apply the superlative. (Or, as we boorish types put it: “How many balls has he actually tasted?”)

Again, there’s really no polite and wholesome way to take this. Unless you were raised in a social vacuum by a Victorian nanny, a tagline like that is going to make you laugh. Or choke, I guess.

But my point is this: These two items popped up completely unsolicited, only a day apart, immediately after I’d considered cleaning up my act. They’re clearly a message from some higher (or probably lower) power: A clean mind just isn’t in the cards for me.

Since omens frequently arrive in threes, I waited with bated breath to see if fate would offer me any more family jewels. But, nope; that was it for this week.

When I think about it, though, I guess it makes sense. Balls generally come in pairs.

Did you get any portents this week?

P.S. I just realized it’s been nearly three whole years since I last wrote a post about balls: http://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/05/02/oh-balls/. Maybe my mind is cleaner than I think. But probably not.

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Public Menace #1

I like to think I’m a relatively harmless and competent person. I’m not much of a threat to public safety unless I’m forced to listen to the vapid warblings of 80s boy bands (but no jury would convict me for doing whatever was necessary to escape such a horrible fate).

The motorcycle safety course I took decades ago made me a good driver. Thanks to my dad’s teachings and some firearms courses, I handle weapons safely and I’m a good shot. Ditto kitchen safety: all my knives are razor-sharp, but I’ve never cut myself. I’ve never harmed myself or anybody else with construction or automotive tools…

I should knock on wood because I realize I’m tempting fate. Tomorrow I’ll undoubtedly drive my car into a tree while simultaneously shooting myself in the foot and being gut-stabbed by the kitchen knife I was inexplicably holding when my airbag deployed. Then, launched by the impact, the tools in my trunk will rocket forward and bludgeon me to death. If you don’t see a blog post next week you’ll know what happened.

Anyway, up until last weekend I really didn’t think the rest of the world had anything to fear from me.

I was wrong.

Apparently I’m an absolute menace with darts in my hand.

Come to think of it, if my sister’s reading this she’s undoubtedly going, “Uh, DUH!!! Yes, you’re a menace with darts!”

But she’s just bitter about that unfortunate lawn-dart incident when we were kids. So she still has the scar; pshaw. It’s in a place where nobody but her husband will ever see it. Anyway, I was young then, so it doesn’t count.

But these days that excuse won’t fly.

And neither did my darts. At least not where I wanted them to fly.

I hit the bullseye once, but that was sheer random chance. My darts wobbled and soared and plummeted and all but performed backflips on the way to the wall. (I say ‘on the way to the wall’ because saying ‘on the way to the dartboard’ would be a gross exaggeration of my competence.)

I stuck a dart in the wall four feet below the dartboard. And a foot above it. And knocked a piece out of the protective plastic cover that some forward-thinking person had installed to protect the fire alarm (which was only about 9” above the dart board; so that wasn’t really my fault).

And here’s the saddest part: I wasn’t even drinking. Maybe that was the problem.  I’m quite sure some beer would have made me a better darts player. It couldn’t have made me worse.

I don’t understand why I sucked so stupendously. In grade school I played outfield on the girls’ softball team because I was the only one who could throw well enough to get the ball back to home plate. I can toss a used tissue with unerring accuracy into a 9” square garbage can a few feet away while lying in bed with my eyes closed in the pitch dark.

But if I’m throwing darts? Go hide in another room. And don’t bend over, just in case.

Any darts professionals out there? Can you give me some tips? (Besides “Quit before you get slapped with a lawsuit for personal injury and property damage”?)

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I Got Ten Inches Last Weekend

Like so many of my inappropriate stories, it all started in the pub with the usual suspects on Friday evening. The waitress had been by to collect our food orders and my friend Chris and I had each decided on pizza. I had ordered a 10” medium and he’d gone for the 12” large.

Okay, I can hear you starting to snicker already. Wait for it…

The food arrived and we all dug in with enthusiasm. Except Chris, who was eyeing his pizza with a puzzled look. “What size pizza did you order?” he asked.

“Medium. Ten-inch,” I mumbled around my mouthful.

“Mine doesn’t look any bigger than yours,” he said.

By then everybody had stopped eating to listen with widening grins on their faces.

I peered over at his pizza. “You’re right. They look the same. Hang on…” I pulled out my little measuring tape. (If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I always carry a measuring tape, along with a bunch of other obscure but useful stuff.)

I measured my pizza. “Ten inches.”

Somebody called out, “Now measure Chris’s!” just as the waitress arrived to see me reaching toward Chris with my measuring tape extended.

Everybody erupted in laughter while the waitress froze.

Chris salvaged the situation as best he could by gravely measuring his pizza. Then he said the words you’ll rarely hear from any guy: “Mine’s only ten inches.”

The waitress’s apology for the mistake was almost obscured by the shouts of laughter. Then she turned to me and said, “I can’t believe you have a measuring tape in your purse!”

That only increased the merriment because everybody at the table knew the story of how I used to lurk in men’s washrooms with my measuring tape. We didn’t enlighten our waitress, though. Some things are just too hard (yes, I said ‘hard’) to explain.

And speaking of questionable behaviours, Hubby and I had a chuckle over our Valentine’s Day meal, too. We avoid restaurants on Valentine’s Day because neither of us wants to eat in a crammed-full restaurant. So Hubby had picked up steaks, crab, and a lobster tail for our dinner, and I was making Eggs Benedict for our lunch.

We were out of back bacon. (I know you’re thinking, “How could Canadians run out of back bacon?” You’re right; the government will probably revoke our citizenship cards.)

Anyway, we improvised with regular side bacon, but we’d gotten some mutant package that was either the product of a novice butcher’s first day on the job, or else they’d swept up all the bits that had fallen on the floor. Or both.

But we slapped the bacon on the Bennies (no, that’s not a euphemism) and dug in regardless. A few minutes later a bacon fragment escaped my fork and Hubby looked over in time to see me groping down the front of my T-shirt.

I quipped, “Most women would spritz themselves with cologne for a Valentine’s Day lunch with their sweetie. I drop bacon down my cleavage.”

He shrugged, grinning. “Works for me.”

Ah, bacon. The universal male attractant. Or maybe that’s cleavage. Or bacon-flavoured cleavage…?

So how was your Valentine’s weekend?

 

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Funny As A Turnip

A few weeks ago I noted in passing that some vegetables are funnier than others. So that got me thinking about the innate amusement value of produce.

At first I thought it might be the shape that determines the joke factor. After all, oranges are spherical and pretty boring, whereas bananas are oddly shaped and intrinsically funny. But that might be a subconscious bias on my part. Bananas come with a lot of psychological baggage as a result of their frequent misuse for purposes best left unmentioned…

Wait, why are you snickering? I was referring to the classic ‘slipping-on-a-banana-peel’ pratfall. What did you think I was talking about?

Okay, never mind; I’ll drop the fake indignation. You know me too well. But to keep this discussion pseudo-scientific, I’ll omit the phallic symbols that trigger a chortle-bias in my puerile brain. No bananas, cucumbers, or zucchini.

So let’s take turnips. Nobody in their right mind could assign a sexual connotation to a turnip. And if you’re about to inform me otherwise, please… just don’t. That’s the kind of thing no amount of brain-bleach can wipe from my mind. Not to mention it’ll make me snicker every time I go through the produce department.

I find turnips innocently funny. ‘Turnip’. It’s such a lumpish, stolid word. It’s the sumo wrestler of vegetables. Maybe it tickles my funnybone because one of my favourite sayings is ‘Strong like ox; smart like turnip’. Or maybe it’s only because other words beginning with ‘tur’ make me giggle, so turnips are funny by association.  For instance, just try saying these words out loud without cracking a smile: ‘Turkey’. ‘Turgid’. ‘Turd’.  (If you’re reading this at work, you might want to skip the ‘out loud’ part… but I dare you…)

Whatever the reason, turnips are a lot funnier than, say, lettuce.

If amusement value was influenced by shape alone, leaf lettuce should be a good candidate for some laughs. Ruffles and green colouring – it should be funny, right? (I find green funnier than red or yellow, too, but that’s a subject for another post… or possibly for incarceration and intense psychoanalysis.)

But no; lettuce isn’t funny. Maybe it’s because amusing things rarely happen while you’re eating lettuce. It’s at best a duty and at worst a punishment. I usually enjoy its crisp crunchiness and the fact that it’s good for me, but it doesn’t make me giggle. And if I want crisp and crunchy, I’d rather eat potato chips. Or if it has to be crisp, crunchy, and green, give me dill pickles. Or what the hell; dill-pickle-flavoured potato chips.

But back to my rigorous scientific analysis.

Broccoli is funny: It’s green (see, green is funny), and its resemblance to little trees is amusing. Plus, if you’re into childish humour, it stinks even when it’s fresh, and post-digestion it’s lethal if you get caught in the blast nimbus.

But just to mess up the ‘green and oddly-shaped’ theory, I also think persimmons are funny. There shouldn’t be anything intrinsically funny about a round yellow-orange fruit, but ‘persimmon’ is a giggle-worthy word in itself. When I was a kid I thought it was a made-up word; a colloquialism for a fruit that surely must have a more dignified name that the adults used. And persimmons have those little crispy-brown tutus around their stems.

Come to think of it, ‘tutu’ starts with ‘tu’…

Which fruits/veggies do you find funniest?

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So I Booked A Photo Session…

Yes, this is the beginning of a joke.  Last week I decided to set up a photo session, with predictable results:

photoshoot cartoonOkay; it wasn’t quite that bad.  I didn’t actually break my ankle; I just twisted it.  I think I remembered to suck in hard enough to hide the evidence of my Superbowl excesses, and the zits were mostly hidden by makeup.  I hope.  (Yes, I wore makeup.  Bleah.)  And my hair, bless it, behaved.

Fortunately I was working with the funny and talented Rick and Sandra Hand of Hand Crafted Images.  They made the session easy and fun, and I know the quality of the photos will be top-notch.  But with me as a model, there’s only so much their talent can overcome…

Does the camera hate you as much as it hates me?

* * *

I’m off for an arthrogram on my ankle this morning (an old kickboxing injury; not photo-session-induced), so I’ll be incommunicado until this afternoon.  “Talk” to you then!

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Um… Hello, 911…?

…I think I just killed my husband… with a bathtub…

I came very close to speaking those words several years ago, and yes, you did read that first sentence correctly. ‘With’; not ‘in’. After all, killing one’s husband in a bathtub is practically a cliché, and you know I’d never stoop to that.

When we bought our house, the upstairs bathroom had a ‘cultured marble’ (read ‘concrete finished to look like marble’) jetted tub.  If we didn’t remember to run the jets frequently it spat stinking gouts of slime because there was no way to drain the stagnant water from the lines. It was ugly, as cold as stone (go figure) and poorly insulated on an exterior wall. In winter my ass froze on the bottom of the tub no matter how hot the water was.

It had to go.

Our plumber friend surveyed it and advised, “That thing probably weighs nearly two hundred pounds. Break it up with a sledgehammer and take it out in pieces.” (Gary, if you’re reading this: We should have listened to you.)

We didn’t, of course.

No; the tub was in good shape. Somebody else might be able to use it. It must be salvaged!

We’re both strong, so removing it wasn’t too difficult. We extricated it from the bathroom with a modicum of sweat and profanity and lugged it to the top of the stairs.  There we balanced it precariously overhanging the stairs, and I went down to support it from below while Hubby held it from the landing above.

I eyed the teetering monstrosity looming over me and said, “I think we should wait until after lunch to do this. My blood sugar is low and I don’t know if I can hold this thing.”

And Hubby said, “That’s okay, I’ll take the bottom and you can take the top.”

We swapped positions and I quavered, “I think we might be solving the wrong problem here…”

And we were. Oh, yes, we were.

Have I mentioned that cultured marble is slippery?

As soon as the tub tipped past its centre of balance, it wrenched out of my grasp. I had only enough time to yelp, “I can’t hold it!” before it hurtled down the stairs like a murderous toboggan with Hubby underneath it.

The lower landing sported an oak railing and (luckily) a 90-degree bend in the stairs.

The tub hit the landing and slammed into the railing. The railing let out a hellish crack and tore loose from the wall but miraculously held at a crazy angle, barely preventing the tub from shooting over the edge and plunging through the living room floor below.

Frozen, I gaped down at the scene of the crime: The tub (still in one piece); the broken railing; Hubby squished underneath.

And I thought, “Shit, I just killed my husband with a bathtub.”

I hadn’t, fortunately. He was smart enough to let it carry him down instead of trying to stop it, so he escaped with only a few minor bruises. After I’d eaten some lunch and stopped shaking, we anticlimactically carried it down the remaining stairs, and we did eventually sell it.

But I’ll never forget the horror of those few moments.

Any bulldozing bathtubs of doom in your family tales?

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Code Phrases And Cauliflower

Before I begin, I’d like to note that I generally don’t criticize a man who’s washing dishes. I believe the correct response to a dishcloth-wielding male is a sincere ‘thank you’, possibly combined with hugs, kisses, ear-nibbling, and/or some friendly groping. (An aside to my dinner guests: This is why we turn down your offers to help with the dishes. It’s just one more little way we ensure we’ll still be friends when the evening’s over.)

But there are exceptions to every rule. (Okay, not to every rule. There are no exceptions to the “Don’t grope the guests” rule. It’s safe to visit us, I promise.)

Anyway…

A few evenings ago I watched the dishwater turn orange while Hubby scrubbed a pot with a steel-wool pad so rusty it looked like Ronald McDonald’s hair, and this conversation took place:

Me: “Maybe it’s time to either pull off the rusty part or throw the whole thing away.”

Hubby: “It looks okay to me.”

Me: “Let me put this another way: Don’t use that thing on my pots!”

And that got me thinking about the subtle little code phrases that develop in marriages. For example:

Me: “Do you want some of this (food item)?”

Hubby: “I’ll have some later.” Translation: “I will never eat that. I will continue to say I’ll eat it ‘later’ until it grows legs and walks itself to the garbage.”

Or

Me: “Were you using the (whatever tool I’m currently looking for)? Do you know where it might be?” Translation: “Goddammit, I can’t find the goddamn tool that I know I put away the last time I used it! Stop stealing my goddamn tools, goddammit!” (Yes, I’m a writer. You can tell by my extensive vocabulary.)

Or

Either of us: “What’s that smell?” Translation: “Did you fart, or is it time to search the fridge for rotting cauliflower again?”

Yes, there’s a story behind that.

One day Hubby and I were in the kitchen making lunch, and I smelled something.  Something vile.  Something remarkably reminiscent of gasses better released in other, more private areas of the house where food is not being prepared.

But I didn’t say anything. I mean, sooner or later we all let one slip, right?

But it happened again. Then again.  At last I demanded, “Did you fart?”

Hubby denied it. He thought I’d been dropping silent-but-deadlies the whole time.

We agreed that something must be rotting in the fridge, but we both dug through it and found nothing that should be emitting that stink. So I tore the fridge apart, washed the shelves and crisper drawers, and checked the drain pan underneath to make sure nothing hideous was growing in there.

Nada. But the smell persisted.

After several days of futile searching, Hubby finally traced the offending vapours to a glass container containing raw cauliflower. It had a locked-tight lid with a silicone seal and the cauliflower looked fine inside, which was why we’d missed it in our previous purges. But the stench was so fearsome it had come right through the sealed lid. Yikes.

The whole episode reminded me of a long-ago friend’s father when he encountered his wife’s er… effluvium. He sucked in a deep breath and then boomed in the heartiest of tones, “Well, hello, cabbage-ass!”

Yep, he was a master of subtle code.

Any code phrases or tales of festering cruciferae in your household?

* * *

P.S. Cool news:  I did a promo with Bookbub over the weekend, and Never Say Spy hit #1 on the Kindle Free Bestsellers list.  For a short time it was the best-selling book in the entire Kindle free store, fiction or non-fiction.  Of course, it was only my fifteen minutes of fame and it had dropped by the next day, but it’s still #1 in Women Sleuths. The best it had ever done before was #9, so I’m pumped!  Woohoo!  :-D

NSS #1 in all Kindle ebooks

My fifteen minutes of fame

 

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Meanwhile, Inside My Brain…

3yrold cartoonTrue to form, Book 9 isn’t even out the door yet and already Book 10 is demanding my attention.  Good thing I love writing!  Speaking of Book 9, SPY HIGH is on schedule to be released this Friday, January 16/15.  As usual, it’ll be out on Amazon and Smashwords first, followed by all other channels within a week or two.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Cow Farts And Doobies

Hubby and I were discussing cow farts the other day.

We didn’t suddenly turn to each other at the dinner table and exclaim, “Cow farts!”  No; our conversation actually began as a semi-serious discussion of global warming.  It’s just that whenever I’m present, the conversation tends to go rapidly sideways.  I blame this on my brain’s annoying tendency to latch onto useless but amusing bits of trivia.

In this case, the factoid in question was:  Cow farts are a major contributor to global warming gas emissions.  Because of the fermentation that takes place as organic matter moves through their four stomachs, large quantities of methane gas are produced.  The gas is, erm… expelled.  Human beings raise lots of cattle.  Lots of cattle equals lots of cow farts. (Update: Sadly, the Blog Fodder has pointed out below that this is only a factoid, not a true and useful fact.  But I still like the idea of farting bovine enviro-pirates.  It’s good to be a fiction writer.)

Anyway, that got me thinking about cows in general.  You know how some things are intrinsically funny?  For example, bananas are funnier than oranges.  Turnips are funnier than, say, lettuce or radishes.  And cows are funnier than horses or just about any other farmyard animal.

I think that’s partly because of another little piece of trivia that may or may not be true, but it sounds logical and I want to believe it:  Cows spend pretty much their entire lives intoxicated because alcohol is another by-product of the digestive fermentation process.  Maybe that explains why they’re so placid.  Whenever I see a cow I giggle at the thought that behind those big brown glassy eyes is an animal that might be completely snockered. (Update:  Nope, this one’s not true, either.  Bummer.)

And cattle are funny-looking.  They could have been designed by a six-year-old kid:  a big rectangular block supported by four knobby legs with a head stuck on the front.  Oh, and a tail on the back.

The tail always makes me laugh, too.  The skinny rope with a tassel on the end is funny in itself, but what truly amuses me is that cows and lions have exactly the same tail.  I don’t know whether to congratulate the cow on its badass likeness to the king of the beasts or offer my condolences to the lion for getting tagged with the same hair-handle as the ungulates.

And if you’ve ever seen a cow jump a fence (they are actually capable of jumping, though not very high), that in itself is giggle-worthy.  Unless the cattle in question are escaping your pasture, in which case it’s not very funny at all.

Anyway…

Fasten your seatbelts, ‘cause here comes a topic-swerve that’s only loosely linked to cow farts:  doobies.  (That’s a funny word in itself.)  Yes, I’m talking about bombers, joints, reefers; wacky tobaccy in general.

How is this related to cow farts?  Well, cow farts are funny.  And doobies are funny cigarettes.

Why am I making this extremely tenuous connection?

Because it’s a cheap and sleazy segue into announcing that Book 9, SPY HIGH has cover art and a release date!  Woohoo!  My beta readers blasted through it during the Christmas holidays – thanks, guys, you ROCK!  Now I only have to do some final polishing and it’ll be ready to roll out the door.  The tentative release date is January 16, 2015 (to be confirmed next week).

And yes, that is a funny cigarette on the cover…

Spy High book 9 cover

After four uneventful months spent guarding her boss’s eccentric hippy parents on an isolated raincoast commune, bookkeeper-turned-secret-agent Aydan Kelly is beginning to hope mildewed undies will be the only hazard she’ll face.

But some of the blissed-out flower children are not what they seem.  Aydan discovers a plot to kill her lovable charges, and in her fight to protect them she unearths the commune’s deepest secret.  Suddenly she’s facing dozens of enemies who threaten the lives of all the innocent commune members as well as her own.

She’ll only survive with a little help from her friends…

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Thanks For Another Good Year!

It’s hard to believe we’ll be starting a new year tomorrow – this one has flown by so fast!  I had originally planned to write some of my usual foolishness today, but instead I’d rather use this final post of 2014 to say thank you to all of you.

When I first started blogging I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but it has been far more fun than I could have imagined.  And you, my wonderful visitors, make it worthwhile.

You give life to my blog and motivation to me.  You make me laugh, encourage me, and sometimes make me think in new ways.

And in the busy-ness of today’s crazy world, I’m honoured beyond measure that you allot some of your precious time to read my silliness and share your wit and wisdom.  Your comments are the best part of my blog!

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I wish you love, laughter, health, and prosperity in the coming year and always.

Happy 2015!

gingerbread house

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