Is Quentin Tarantino directing commercials now?

Have you seen this new Life Alert commercial? It’s terrifying.

This could be a clip from a horror movie or one of those true life crime shows on Investigation Discovery, maybe even a snuff film.

That poor Grandma is laying helpless at the bottom of the stairs while her oblivious mailman flirts with a neighbor walking two friendly dogs. And, if she ever gets help, she still has to finish the laundry and fix her leaky kitchen faucet.

They’ve really upped the scare factor to sell 24-hour emergency response systems since the days of clumsy Mrs. Fletcher, who uttered one of the 80′s most famous catchphrases, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

Listen carefully at the 0:30 mark. See if you think she says cang instead of can’t. That used to drive my father CRAZY.

And, if you never heard that wacky song Dr. Demento used to play on his radio show, then TODAY IS THE DAY.

“No one lives with Mrs. Fletcher,
There was no one there to catch her.
She could really use a stretcher,
It looks bad for Mrs. Fletcher.”

It’s better being a woman.

Lucas fixing the hot water heater

This is my cute husband doing manly things.

Yesterday the toilet in the hall bathroom wouldn’t flush. The problem is some valve Lucas has to replace. This morning I started the car and right away I could tell the battery was about to die. He decided to take care of that first so he could drive to the hardware store and buy the necessary parts to fix the hot water heater, which decided to leak all over the garage today.

That’s three things. A Trifecta of Broken Crap.

I helpfully pointed out to Lucas that he wasn’t the only one getting hit with trials this week.

First, my sciatica flared up again, bad enough that I had trouble sleeping two nights in a row. Then I got my period the night before yet another dental procedure that left me with two stitches in my gums. It was a Trifecta of Pain.

I didn’t even remind him that the lever to recline my favorite spot on the couch broke this week. I didn’t want to outdo him with a fourth woe or bring up something else to fix.

“See?” I said to him. “You had your manly stuff to deal with. I had womanly problems.”

“Yours were all preventable,” he said.

I put my hand on hip, which is my automatic reaction when he says anything Neanderthal-ish. It’s a handy visual cue that what I’m about to say should be taken seriously. “You were going to look so good in my blog post. Don’t ruin it,” I warned him.

Then he smiled at me and went back to the hot garage to keep working without complaining.

That’s one of the reasons why I love him. He never lets repairs put him in a bad mood. He also does his own laundry and makes his own lunch. He’s pretty much the perfect husband, even if he doesn’t understand that periods complicate everything.

Stop Talking

I was reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath when…

(Wait, does that sound pretentious? It isn’t, really. I’m about to reveal my ignorance.)

…I came across the word infelicities. Plath described reading poems by ACRich (Adrienne Rich, I assume) that were “easy, yet professional, full of infelicities and numb gesturings at something.”

Since I’m constitutionally unable to read a word I don’t know and not look it up, I searched an online dictionary and got this oh-so-helpful definition: the quality or state of being infelicitous. I looked that up too.

Infelicitous definition

Ever made an infelicitous remark? I HAVE. I don’t mean asking a non-pregnant woman when she is due, I mean the kind of comment that leaves you hoping the earth will open up and swallow you whole.

It was a decade ago and I still carry the shame. I was having a particularly stressful, hectic day at work when a co-worker called. Her father very recently passed away and she’d returned from bereavement leave but was out of the office one afternoon. She called about a work-related issue, greeted me warmly and asked how I was doing. I sighed dramatically and, in my frustrated and overwhelmed state, I blurted, “Well, I’m NOT DEAD.”

Luckily, she laughed. Then again, how do you respond to an infelicitous remark of epic proportions?

Anyway, I apologized. Profusely. Again and again. I should have shut up. If only someone had been there to hand me a STOP TALKING card.

Stop Talking

This is a real thing made by Set Editions. Imagine the possibilities. Discreetly slide a card into a nervous girl’s palm under the dinner table when she starts talking about ex-boyfriends on a first date. Or hand one to the rude couple behind you talking during the movie. Or give a card to the idiot telling divorce stories at a wedding. Give one to the fool who won’t stop apologizing after telling an ill-timed death joke to a grieving daughter. You’d be doing us all a free public service.

Have You Heard? … Scottsdale

Whether you’re new to Scottsdale or just looking for a parent’s guide to all things local, Have You Heard? … Scottsdale has you covered. Created by a team of mothers who like to share their expertise, it’s your resource for the best the city has to offer.

Have You Heard? ... Scottsdale

Find fun things to do with the kids or locate local clothes and toy shops. Get the dish on family-friendly restaurants and where kids eat free, or enjoy a little romance with their date night recommendations. Get social with their MOM SOS listings of clubs, playgroups, and Mommy and Me classes.

Planning a birthday party? Browse through venues, caterers, and in-home entertainment. Looking for pediatric doctors and dentists? They’ve got the details.

Their Scottsdale School Resource Guide is an information goldmine. Among the nuggets of school stats you’ll find:

Scottsdale School Resource Guide

  • Total enrollment
  • Teacher-to-student ratio
  • Curriculum info by subject
  • Gifted and special needs services
  • Discipline methods / Behavior expectations

They also have AIMS and SAT rankings and a handy Scottsdale School Locator.

Moms, they value your unique experiences too! You can submit your tips, comments and stories. And, if you own a Scottsdale business, this is the ideal spot for advertising to a targeted audience.

Connect with Have You Heard? … Scottsdale on Facebook and Twitter.

How to put your kids in therapy for the rest of their lives.

The Bloggess recently had her 18th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, she considered hiring an evil clown to stalk her husband for a week.

What?

It’s a real thing, she wrote, and I followed her link to a Huffington Post article about a man named Dominic Deville. It’s an appropriately creepy name for someone who hires himself out as an evil birthday clown. He “leaves scary notes for your children” and “harasses his targets with texts, phone calls and letters to let them know their time is coming.” After a frightening week of this, Deville appears in a freaky clown mask to smash a cake into your birthday child’s face.

Dominic Deville evil birthday clown

Turns out, Deville only performed these services in his native Switzerland (for 666 Swiss Francs) and he’s no longer in the Evil Birthday Clown business.

On an unrelated note, Hudson (who is back to going by his real name) has a birthday coming up.

Oh, and I think I have an idea for a new business.

How to Make a Photo Slideshow With Music For Free

I’ve been wanting to create a video with my pictures set to music but I couldn’t find the right program to do it. One of my Internet searches led me to forums with answers from SEVEN YEARS AGO. I was searching for “photo montage,” “how to make a photo montage with music,” and “how to make a video with pictures.” No good.

A proper Google search, “how to make a photo slideshow with music for free,” would have returned Slide.ly on the first results page. Now I’ve found my new hobby. It’s super easy, which is perfect for me because I don’t have the patience for a learning curve.

It’s so simple it’s self-explanatory. But what kind of tutorial says “you’ll figure it out?” Exactly. So here are step-by-step directions.

How to make a photo slideshow1.  Create a free account on Slide.ly.

2.  Go to Create and choose Slide.ly Show.

3.  Upload photos. Add up to 90 photos. Source them from:

  • Your computer
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google images
  • Dropbox
  • Flickr
  • Picasa

How many photos should you use? About one photo per four seconds of song.

4.  Sort photos. Shuffle or drag and drop. Choose the cover photo. Add text; it appears next to the photo instead of as an overlay.

5.  Choose the music. The sky is the limit! Select music from:

  • YouTube
  • SoundCloud
  • Dropbox
  • Upload your MP3′s
  • Slide.ly playlists

6.  Preview. In the final step Slide.ly lumps together several important options:

  • Choose a theme, if you want to get all fancy-pantsy.
  • Adjust the speed. Otherwise, it’s automatically set to best fit your slideshow.
  • Set the duration. The default is music but you can change it to photos.
  • Change the visibility. The default is public so be sure to uncheck the box if you want to keep it private.
  • Add a title and description.
  • Add tags.

7.  Save and share. Post your slideshow everywhere:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Embed on your blog

Here’s a slideshow I made with my wedding photos. I used music by Norah Jones (our first dance was to “Come Away With Me”) and the Zoom Old Film theme. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty cool for only a few minutes of work.

Lucas & Melissa by Slidely Slideshow

Also read:
The Best Man Speech
Our Wedding Vows

If I liked it then I should have put a crown on it.

So that root canal I had? Yeah, I never followed up to get the crown. If it was the kind of crown that came with a throne and scepter and royal authority then I would have been all over that. But noooo, it was a really expensive crown that people would never see and they wouldn’t even know to address me as Your Majesty.

Eventually, that tooth cracked and then… surprise! My dentist said it wasn’t possible to put a crown on anymore and it would have to be extracted. If I liked it then I should have put a crown on it (I’m so sorry) because I spent a fortune on it, all for nothing. Basically, I bought my tooth a Harvard education and it became a traveling street musician.

The dentist referred me to an oral surgeon to remove it. In the olden days you got drunk and your four closest friends held you down while someone with a rudimentary tool yanked out the offending tooth. That was before the invention of string and heavy doors to slam. Now we have doctors who stab your gums with needles full of Novacane and use forceps to pull teeth. What a relief, right?

Yesterday I had my appointment with the oral surgeon. Before he got started he asked me what kind of music I listened to. Thinking he was just making conversation, I regaled him with my eclectic taste in music. Maybe nerves made me chatty. “Oh, I’m an 80′s girl all the way. I also like 60′s and 70′s too. I like a lot music. Anything except country. I mean, I even like some opera songs. And African Blues! But country? How do people stand it? Not for me. No thank you…”

Finally, I shut up. Then I realized what he actually wanted was to know what background music to play while he did the procedure. He picked one of my preferred genres and said, “Let’s just see what the 60′s and 70′s gets us.” Then he chose a station on Pandora.

And that’s how I got my tooth extracted to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”

Not the worst song to have played. What would have been? I leave it to the Internet at large to answer such a question.

This sounds like the makings of a Twitter trend where song titles are changed to dental-related stuff. Like, Bleachin’ by Jake Owen or This is How we Rinse by Florida Georgia Line. And the title of this blog post, of course.

Someone come up with the hashtag, please.

This is how we do it.

Jolie at the splash padSwimming pools and splash pads. Bathing suits. Water shoes. Hats. Sunglasses. Sunscreen. Otter Pops. Kool-Aid. Fruit smoothies. Lots and lots of cold water.

This is summer survival in Phoenix. It’s how we handle the blistering heat when we dare to venture outside.

Now is the time for those of you who live in cool climates to rub it in. Brag about getting in your car without scalding yourself. Tell me how you can take out the trash barefoot and it’s not like walking on hot coals. Tell me how chilly it gets when the sun goes down. You still get to wear your jeans and sweaters!

Am I jealous? Yes, yes I am. But come winter time I’ll be Christmas shopping in shorts and not shoveling my driveway. That’s one of the many things that makes living in Phoenix worthwhile.

The Boy Formerly Known as Hudson

The Boy who Changed His NameThis is the boy formerly known as Hudson. Yesterday he announced a name change.

“What is it now?” Lucas asked him.

“Mr. Swinger of the Dingers,” he answered.

After our hysterical laughter died down, we asked where he came up with that name. Turns out it’s based on the lyrics to The Jungle Book’s “I Wanna Be Like You:”

“I’m the king of the swingers, the jungle V.I.P.
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what’s bothering me.”

Madison was the queen of misheard song lyrics. She still sings “I’m blue da ba dee da ba die” as “I’m blue if I was green I would die.”

Then again, Lucas thought they were singing “the smartest trooper” in the chorus of “I Know This Much is True.” I thought Boy George sang “you’re my lover not my Bible” instead of rival.

I guess it runs in the family.

You can probably get to Hogwarts through my front yard.

You might be behind on your yard work. Grass to mow. Weeds to pull. Bushes to prune.

Please allow me to make you feel better:

Mesquite trees eating my house

This was my front yard a week ago.

On my street you pass tidy, manicured lawns – one even has a flag pole with an Old Glory snapping in the wind. Then you got to my house and it was being swallowed by mesquite trees. Or maybe they’re not mesquite trees. I don’t even know.

One time a small, thorny branch in the yard stabbed my foot when I stepped over it in my flip flops. Immediately there was a painful, hard, pea-size lump where it pierced me. Are mesquites violent trees that attack people without provocation? Or could these be Whomping Willows that lead to the Shrieking Shack in Hogsmeade?

Whatever these trees are, one of the branches snapped and lay in a slump. No tempestuous winds or bolts of lightning. It was just too heavy and it buckled under its weight.

Did I mention we live in a corner house? Off a busy thoroughfare? It was so embarrassing.

Fallen tree

The kids thought it was cool having our own private jungle. I felt like I should swing through my front door on a vine like Jane.

Finally, the landscapers showed up to mark some branches with orange tree paint. Then they paced around, surveying the yard like they weren’t sure where to begin. And they didn’t begin that day. Or the next.

Hudson announced their eventual arrival by screaming, “THE LAWN MOWERS ARE HERE!” (If I ever own a yard work business I’m calling it The Lawn Mowers.) They were here all day and when they were through it looked like a totally different yard.

the trimmed trees

This is what remains of the fallen tree:

the fallen tree

Let’s see the whole yard in a before-and-after side-by-side.

Before and After

Now that the greenery is all gone I miss how it shaded the front rooms. And I didn’t even get a chance to look for a hidden passageway to Hogsmeade. Maybe it’s still there. A Butterbeer sounds really good right now.