Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Laughter

Laughing is good for the soul, and it's good for your health.  For real, it's good for you!

Here are some of the things that never fail to make me laugh:

Saturday Night Live

We all know the new SNL has its moments of hilarity, but for the most part pales in comparison to the days
of old with Steve Martin, Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and then the not-so-old-but-still-old-school days of old with Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon and Chris Farley.   I was even a fan of Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph's day.

Anytime I need a good laugh, I pop in my SNL: Best of Will Ferrell, SNL: Best of Chris Farley or The Women of SNL.

Jim Carrey

I don't care if it's Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, Dumb & Dumber, The Cable Guy or Bruce Almighty.  If it's Jim, it's all good.

Bill Engvall

I LOVE this dude.  He is so funny.  I think the thing I appreciate about him the most is that he's hilarious without being vulgar.  Nowadays it's rare to find a comedian with the ability to make you laugh without being disgusting or dropping f-bombs every other second.  I have all of his comedy albums, and I frequently listen to them on my school commute.  One day I WILL see him live!

Craig Ferguson

Since we're on stand-up, this guy is another one of my favorites.  He's also on my List, so that's a bonus.  I watch Craigyferg every night before I go to bed.  Win!

National Lampoon

Christmas Vacation.  Vacation.  European Vacation. Animal House.  Van Wilder.  Doesn't matter, if it's National Lampoon, I'm laughing.  Unless it's the more recent attempts at comedy/soft porn/obscene nonsense.  Those aren't funny.  Give me Van Wilder or Cousin Eddie any day.


We all know I love Friends.  I've seen every single episode of the much-beloved series at least seven times now.  Every few months Hubs and I start watching them again from start to finish.  It doesn't matter that I've memorized the episodes; I still laugh my butt off when I watch them.  I'll be there for you, 'cause you're there for me, too.

Mel Brooks

This man is pure genius.  Every film of his I've seen has been comedy gold.  Spaceballs, Young Frankenstein, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World, Blazing Saddles - all fantastic.  Slapstick is a gem.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April's A-to-the-Zizzle: K

K is for King.  Of the royal variety, that is.

History is chock-full of famous monarchs - good guys, bad guys, crazy guys, guys who went missing only to be found hundreds of years later under a parking lot (true story).    British history provides a plethora of juicy scandals revolving around the royal families, as well as some disconcerting tales.    Some monarchs gained fame for their benevolence and good deeds, while others did so by mass murder and all-out tyranny.  People ruling with complete power went by other titles besides king and queen; there were Tsars (or Tzars, or Czars  - those crazy Russians are too indecisive), Emperors and Kaisers (which is really just the German word for "emperor").  Let's cover some of history's most famous absolute rulers.

King Henry VIII (I am, I am), Tudor

Everybody knows about this guy.  You know, the one who invented divorce.  Henry is credited with separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church.  He only did it because the Pope wouldn't annul his marriage to Catharine of Aragon, and he only wanted an annulment because he desperately wanted to shack up with his mistress Mary Boleyn's younger, hotter sister Anne, and she wouldn't put out until he married her.  Tease.  Unfortunately for Anne, Henry had a wee bit of a temper, and later had her beheaded.  Throughout his lifetime Henry married a total of six times.  Talk about commitment issues.

Tsar Nicholas II, Romanov

Poor Nicholas didn't have a chance, what with his wife being totally, hopelessly devoted to that creepy, dirty skeez Rasputin.  The Tsar was actually a pretty good guy (despite his nickname "Bloody Nicholas"), and the last years of his reign were spent in constant worry and stress over his son and heir, Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. In the March Revolution of 1917, the Tsar and his family (Empress Alexandra, daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and young tsarevich Alexei) were taken prisoner after Nicholas abdicated his throne and the right of his son.  Eventually sent to Yekaterinburg, the Romanovs were executed in a horrific manner, then their bodies were burned, covered in acid and buried in an attempt to cover up the murders.  Their remains weren't exhumed until 1991.  

King Richard III, House of York

Hide-and-seek World Record holder.

Richie was the last king of the House of York, and after his death in the War of the Roses the Tudor line rose to power. So we can blame him for Henry VIII.  The last English king to die in battle, Richard was buried in 1485, after which his grave was lost  (bet somebody got fired over that.  "Where'd you bury Richard?" "It was....uh.....I...I'm not sure."). He was missing for over FIVE HUNDRED YEARS.  He was finally found this past February underneath a parking lot.  What a bummer.  Five bucks says he's been haunting cars and making tires go flat. And before that, making carriage wheels fall off.  And before that, possessing horses.  Wow, five hundred years.  Sucks for you, Richie.

Lastly, because I'm all for women's equality and feminism...

Queen Elizabeth I, Tudor

Liz was the last ruler of the Tudor dynasty.  Daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth is known as one of the greatest monarchs in British history.  She was nicknamed "The Virgin Queen" for her refusal to marry, and though she had several suitors throughout her life (ie: booty calls), her virginity was celebrated throughout Britain.

Her reign is designated the Elizabethan Era or the Golden Age, due to the flourishing of poetry, literature and theatre. William Shakespeare was a major player during this time.  World exploration was also a priority for the British Empire. With all of the positive goings-on, poor Liz had a major bummer to deal with: she was constantly threatened by plots to have her killed and replaced with Mary, Queen of Scots.  Being a queen sucks sometimes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Aprils A-to-the-Zizzle: J

J is for Jess.

Let's be honest, most of us who blog think we have something interesting to say, which means we think we're interesting people.  Some of us are mistaken, but hey, we can't all be winners.  As such, I figured what better way to prove how interesting I am than by dedicating an entire post to the awesomeness that is me?  (Humor me, guys.  I need the confidence boost.)

So, for the post ALL ABOUT ME, I decided to share with you guys some of the things that make me, well, me.


Ah, the southern state in all of its country, backward, deep-fried glory.  Born and raised here, I have spent many a day swimming in the creek, sucking the heads of crawfish (because that really is where the good stuff is) and parading down Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras (and yes, it's a ridiculous celebration, but we just can't seem to grow out of it).

As a teen I swore that someday I'd get the flock out of dodge and see the world.  Get away from the rednecks and their pickup trucks and rebel flags.  I was so serious about moving away that anytime a relationship got to the point where the guy started talking about the future I was like, "Later."  I wasn't planting any roots, no sir.  So what happened? I turned 19 and moved to Tennessee.  Because it's SO different from Louisiana.  Ha ha ha.  Truth:  the only differences between Louisiana and Tennessee are that the food is more bland, cars are MUCH worse and people say you'ins instead of y'all.  Oh, and Tennessee has hillbillies while Louisiana has rednecks (I have no idea what the difference there is).

Seriously though, I love Tennessee.  It's one of the most beautiful places in North America that I've seen. I lived there for a year, and I never got tired of the view. I did get tired of snow and ice on the roads.  Daredevil, I am not.  Plus my Dad lives there with my stepmom and my two baby half-sisters, so I enjoyed spending some actual time with them instead of a measly two weeks in the summer and week at Christmas. I made some great friends and gained some experience, but about seven months in I realized that - gasp! - I missed Louisiana.  What?! What was wrong with me?  I couldn't figure it out, but I couldn't deny it.  The 'ol bayou was calling me home.

The older I get, the more I appreciate my home state, and I notice more things now that are beautiful and unique about Louisiana.  The trees, for example.  Louisiana has some of the most whimsical, beautiful old trees. We all know the food is better here.  Basically I could talk about Louisiana and how great it is all day, but eventually you'd get bored.  If you just crave more, check out a previous post about Louisiana and the myths surrounding it here.


Mine is big, loud, obnoxious and full of some of the most crazy and fun people I know. My mother's side of the family is the side I've spent the most time with in my life.  My grandmother was one of 13 (thirteen!!) children of a poor preacher/sharecropper and a full-blooded Seminole Indian.  They had an outhouse and almost never had meat to eat and spent a LOT of time at church. My grandfather is one of 5 children, and although my great-grandmother is still living at 95, I have no idea what she or my great-grandfather did for a living.  I do know great-grandpa collected tennis balls and sent them to children in Honduras.  His entire legacy is tennis balls.

My family on my father's side spends a great deal less time together.  My dad has three brothers, one of which lives in Tennessee near my dad, one in Oklahoma and the other in Maryland.  My uncles are great, and I wish I could see them more often.  (Long-distance family is one reason I'm thankful for Facebook. Otherwise I'd never get to talk to them.  For real. Like, ever.) My dad's parents passed away in 1996 and 1998.  They had a doll shop and made porcelain dolls.  It was the coolest place, and my grandparents would take me with them to the shop and teach me how to use the kiln, how to paint the faces and dress them.  I always considered myself their favorite grandchild, and I suspect I was right because they called me Miss Priss, and the doll shop was called Miss Priss.  My dad and uncles gave me the stained glass shop sign after my grandfather passed away.  It is one of my most treasured possessions.

Altogether (counting step-family, because they're awesome and I consider them real family), I have eight uncles, eight aunts, twenty-one first cousins, seven second cousins, two brothers, four sisters, my mom, my dad, my stepmom, four grandparents, and one great-grandmother.  Whew.

Then you have MY family; that is, my husband, me and our two daughters.  I blogged about them the other day, so you know they are my whole world.  Hubs is my Prince Charming, my rock, my supporter, my sexy stud muffin   He's also a wonderful father.    My kids are hysterical, frustrating, sweet, beautiful, precious little  fascinating people.  Their personalities are so completely different, but they're best friends and are so much fun.  It's such a joy watching them grow and start to figure out who they are, what they like and don't like, what their interests are.  I love every moment of it.


Like I said, my great-grandfather was a preacher, and my family has always been very involved in church activities.  As a child I probably spent more time at church than anywhere else.  Now, as an adult, my faith is extremely important to me, and I am actively involved in my church.  It is also important to me and Hubs that our kids are raised in church and know about faith and God and heaven.

My oldest child, at 5, is super-curious about where exactly Heaven is, and why do people go there, and what do they do there, and on and on and on.  It started when my stepfather passed away in 2011.  It was very sudden and she had a difficult time with it.  She was Papa's girl, so when one day he was there and the next day he wasn't, she felt very frustrated and confused and sad.  She reminds us frequently that Papa was sick and Jesus made him better, which makes her happy.  That happiness helps the rest of us to deal with it.

Each person is entitled to their own personal beliefs, and I would never force my opinions on anyone else.  If you want to know what I believe, ask me and I'll be more than happy to share it with you.   :)


My major.  My hobby.  My future career.  It's all wrapped up in History.   I love it, I can't get enough of it, and I can't shut up about it.  It's like this gigantic collection of stories - romance, war, comedy, mystery, drama - all rolled up into one book called Us.

There were so many fascinating characters throughout History: some leaders of nations, others seemingly insignificant people who contributed to the world in some way or left their words to help us better understand an event.  An everyday Joe who happened to be in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time could change the course of history.  A guy who put his 99 arguments against the Catholic Church on the door of the church because nobody was home, forgetting the next day was a national holiday and EVERYBODY would be attending church....(led to the Protestant Reformation, btw.  Just in case you missed that day of class).   A little Jewish girl whose family was hiding from Nazis during WWII and kept a journal of what was happening around her... The son of a candle maker who went to work with his older brother at a printing press and learned to write, only to later be named one of the founding fathers of a nation...

Each example of one person who made a contribution to our world's history is a story, and each story is available to us to study, to learn and appreciate.  My hope is to share that love and excitement, so that others will develop an affection as well.

So, Louisiana, Family, Faith and History - four things that play a major role in who I am.  Of course there's a great deal more to me (my love for comedies, Aerosmith and vanilla oreos, for example), but you guys don't have time for that.  Neither do I, for that matter.  You'll just have to settle for a sneak peek of Jess.  For now....

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April's A-to-the-Zizzle: I

I is for Ian.
Ian Somerhalder, that is.


I have a serious, full-on, drive-Hubs-crazy crush on this handsome actor/do-gooder/animal lover.  I'll admit, when I first heard of him via The Vampire Diaries, I didn't pay his looks much attention other than to despise him for being such a pain to Stefan and Elena.  I couldn't stand Damon Salvatore (which is a credit to his acting skills.  He plays bad SO good).  Then, weirdly, about halfway through the second season I was watching and suddenly thought dang, he's hot.  After that I was smitten kitten with one Ian Somerhalder.

Of course I had to Google him, and imagine my delight when I found out HE'S FROM THE SAME TOWN AS ME!  It was a sign from God.  Well, maybe not, but still.  How awesome is that?!  Then as I was researching I discovered that Ian is a hardcore philanthropist and animal lover.  He founded the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, or ISF.  ISF makes efforts to educate people around the world about energy conservation, animal protection and other awesome projects. Their mission statement is:  "The IS Foundation aims to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures." You can check out his website here.  What's hotter than a guy who loves animals and is trying to save the planet?
I mean, really, how can you not love this?

After drooling over Ian for a few weeks I informed Hubs that I was adding him to The List.  He objected on the grounds that Ian is from here and his family still lives here, and as such visits the area often.  Hubs says I'm more likely to have a shot at meeting Ian and thus be within my rights to engage in flirting and/or making out per the rules of our List Agreement.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, see my post about The List here.) I also tried to talk Hubs into letting me become a volunteer at the St. Tammany Humane Society, but he vehemently refused to let me because Ian is a financial supporter and frequent visitor to the shelter.  I pouted for a few days, but I haven't completely given up.

Of course, once I had a bonafied crush on Ian, I had to find out what else he's been in. I never got into the whole Lost hooplah, so I had no idea he played Boone.  I want to watch it just to check out his character, but at the same time I don't because rumor is he dies in it. Not cool, ABC.  Not cool.   He also had parts in a short-lived Dawson's Creek spin-off, multiple television series, The Rules of Attraction, The Tournament, Pulse, and various other films.   He also worked as a model in his early teens and twenties.  (There's a super hot picture of him in nothing but skivvies, but I didn't want to put it on here for Hubs' sake. Google it. It'll make your day.)

Word on the interwebs is that Ian is currently working on a new film and is up for several other roles, including the much-anticipated Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey.  The book series was crazy kinky, and I wasn't really all that interested in seeing the films, but if Ian is playing Grey, I'll be watching them for sure!

He's just....I don't even....what?

Now that I've probably weirded most of you out and made the rest of you uncomfortable, I'll wrap it up.

Happy "I" day!

Monday, April 8, 2013

April's A-to-the-Zizzle: H

H is for History.

In this crazy world we live in, some of us are more interested in the past than the present.  Seriously, who wants to hear more about how any day now North Korea will attempt to fire a weapon at the U.S. (only to have it shot down into the ocean before it gets even remotely near us, by the way)?  Not me.

I started college as an English major.  I love stories, I love reading, I love writing.  English seemed like a natural choice for me.  I soon discovered, however, that with each new English course I took, my love for it dwindled a bit more.  Such a disappointment.  There were exceptions, like American Literature and English Literature.  I could take those courses over and over.  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, anyone? Anyhoo, from that I switched to Education because deep down I've always known I wanted to be a teacher,  no matter the subject.  After one semester I decided to take a "break" which turned into six years.

When I returned to college in 2010 I picked up with the Education major, but deciding to go ahead and get the prerequisite courses over with, I scheduled two History courses and a Political Science.  I LOVED those three classes.  I never missed a day.  I showed up every day, excited to hear what the professors were going to share.  The stories captivated me, the people enthralled me.  After rambling to my husband for the seven millionth time that semester, he said, "Why aren't you a History major?  You obviously love it."  I stared at him for a moment, then the little lightbulb came on and I realized Hubs is a genius.  After spending a few days   letting it marinate, I realized Hubs was absolutely right, and felt like a moron for not figuring it out myself.  I went  to the university and changed my major.  I have never had a single moment of regret or uncertainty since.  History is my niche.

Think about it.  Studying History can take you anywhere in the world, to any time period, or any specific
singular moment that had great significance.  You can find hundreds of books on a single topic, such as the JFK assassination, or a single war, or even a single battle.  You can find dozens of books on a single significant person.  You can learn what made people who they were, you can read about why people made the decisions they made, why someone took that extra step that made them greater than the average person.

My favorite History topics are Colonial American, the American Revolution, World War II and British History.  I'm always amazed that while I cherish American history so deeply, it is such a considerably short period of time when compared to most other nations.  When I was in England and France, it repeatedly struck me that many of the homes and buildings we saw were centuries older than my own country.  Such a bizarre realization to have.

I've been driving Hubs crazy with the construction on my new home office, because before the room was even framed up I had already purchased replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, various paintings of the American Revolution and famous historical characters, a Lincoln bust and other historical knickknacks to decorate my office with.  I just couldn't help myself.  I'm obsessed.   I also drive Hubs crazy whenever we watch anything with historical references because I'm always like, "That didn't happen like that.  That's not right.  No, he didn't say that."  Don't even get me started on Disney films...

My hope is to someday be a professor that, while lecturing students taking prerequisite courses, one of the stories I tell will captivate a student so much that he or she realizes their own love for History.  I've been so fortunate to have several professors who are so enthusiastic about what they teach that it's contagious.  They make you want to learn more.

Moral of the story?  Find something, anything historical that interests you, and study it.  Read about it.  Check out multiple books about it to get different viewpoints.  Talk about it with others.  And for God's sake, please don't believe everything you see in "historical" films.  It still pains me to let my children watch Pocahontas.  She married John Rolfe, not John Smith, Walt!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April's A-to-the-Zizzle Challenge: G

So, word on the street is that during the April A-Z Challenge people are not posting on Sundays, because by cutting out Sundays you end up with exactly 26 days.  Bunch of geniuses.  Me, though?  I'm a rebel.  I like to live dangerously.  I once went an entire flu season without getting vaccinated, and sometimes I even use the 5 second rule when I drop food.  I'm wild.  Thus, the show must go on!

G is for Grease

No, not the yucky stuff in fried food that sticks to your arteries and makes your stomach expand.  The other Grease.  Ya know, the one with a bunch of 30-somethings pretending to be high school students, dancing and singing their way through a semester at Rydell High.

I'm going to go with the assumption that everyone on earth has seen this film at least once in their life (or, like me, somewhere around 697 times).  However, if you've been living under a rock and have somehow failed to make time to see it, here's the short version:

Guy (Danny) and girl (Sandy) meet on vacation at the beach and fall madly in love.  In front of crashing waves, they pledge their love and bid each other adieu before leaving for their respective homes.  Cue cool animated movie intro with music.  Fade out to Rydell High, where Danny is the leader of the T-Birds, the coolest cats in town.  They even have the black leather jackets to prove it.  Their counterparts are the Pink Ladies.  In an odd coincidence, Sandy has just moved to town and finds that Danny is in fact not the sweet, gentlemanly hunk she fell in love with, but a fake and a phony and she wished she'd never laid eyes on him.
 Cue dating and jealousy and sleepovers with singing and smoking and more dating and a slut named Cha-Cha and a really ugly, pockmark-faced dude who has it in for Danny and the T-Birds - especially Danny's best bud Kenickie (Jeff Conway - my favorite character in this film).  There's a dance-off and some mooning, more singing and dancing, a pregnancy scare, pink hair (which leads to a vision of singing beehive-haired girls with Frankie Avalon), a car race and, finally, a resolution which leads to the fantastic ending to the movie, filled with more singing and dancing, lots of black leather, a carnival and a flying car.


The thing I love the most about Grease is that it is a film that has been passed on for generations.  My mom
loved this film when it came out, which she passed on to me, which I have passed on to my daughters who now love it, too.   I know that someday they'll pass it on to their kids, and the magic will continue.

It's so obnoxiously awesome in every way.  I love to hate Rizzo, and then find myself feeling sorry for her, then realize by the end that she's not so bad (and yes, I repeat this cycle every single time I watch it).  I love that at first I don't think Sandy really deserves Danny, because he's awesome and she needs to get over herself, and by the end of the movie I'm pleased that she finally got a clue and bought some leather.  I love that these people are obviously too old to be playing high school students, but we buy it anyway.  I love Kenickie and his one-liners.  "A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark card."

I love the songs. Every single one.  Even the drive-in song, which is admittedly really bad. I don't care, I still sing it at the top of my lungs. "Sandy.....can't you see....I'm in misery.....Why-e-y-e-y-e-yyyyy.  Oh, Sandy."

I HATE Cha-Cha.  I always get angry at Danny for dancing with her. Every time.  He's too cool for her.
She's such a slut.

I love Frenchie and Jan, and how awkward and weird they are.  I LOVE the school secretary, Blanche, and how she constantly annoys the principal.  I love the football coach and his description of how the team is going to beat their opposition at the pep rally (Blanche is also funny in that scene).

As a kid, what I loved about Grease was how these people were all friends, and it didn't matter that they fought and went out and broke up and had all of these problems, at the end of the day, they went to the carnival and sang about going together like wham-balam-abama, dinky-dingy-dong.   Friends forever.

On a downside, I was super disappointed when I reached high school and there weren't any T-Birds or Pink Ladies, and nobody sang about their feelings or had dance-offs.  Bummer.

So, people, the next time you're hanging with your pals, break into song and see if they'll join you.  If not, there's always flying cars....