Friday, February 25, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #7

Happy Friday everyone!  Since it's almost the weekend, it's time again for Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week.  This week's submissions feature nostalgia, heroics, and deeds of dastardly sabotage.

Hero of the Week:  Beauty and the Beast
B&B was my favorite movie when I was a kid, and Belle was defiantly my favorite princess.  She was my favorite when I was very young because she was the only princess with brown hair and green eyes.   She was my favorite when I was in middle school because she liked to read.  In high school, I liked her because she was loyal to her family.  Now I love her because she shows discernment of character and a hunger to expand her worldview.  And Belle is only one reason I love this movie!  The songs are awesome, and I was able to watch in blu-ray for the first time this week with Jack.  We hung out in my room, newly named "Fancy Land" by Jack, and watched this cinematic masterpiece in sing-along mode.  The new feature helped me to learn some song lyrics that I had never understood before:  "Sally forth, tally ho/Praise the Lord and here we go!" "We're 50 strong and 50 Frenchman can't be wrong!"  Pure genius!  

Villain of the Week:  Jamie
Yes, I am this week's villain.  I have done myself far too much damage this week to go without punishment!  It all started innocently enough with a day trip to Baltimore.  I'm not much of a city driver, but I decided to go anyway.  I found a parking garage near my final destination before leaving, but somehow managed to drive through the whole garage and missed every open parking spot.  I had to leave the garage and find a new place to park, which was a bit further than I had planned on.  Once parked, I set out on foot.  In my infinite wisdom, I wore boots with 3" heels despite the snow and ice the day before.  Here's the thing about Baltimore:  it has a lot of tall buildings, and ice doesn't melt so well between buildings where the sun can't reach.  I managed not to fall, but did pull a tendon in my foot.  Now, why would I do that if I wasn't a villain?  But alas, the story gets worse.  After injuring my foot, I enjoyed a delightful lunch with a dear friend.  Sadly, I revolted against myself once again and became unpleasantly ill.  Shame on me!

That is all for this week!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Ghastly Tale of the Ghostly Grumpy Gus

This weekend I was dog-sitting for a couple from church.  They have two of the cutest Cocker Spaniels and live in a house very appropriately named Cocker Hill.  The name isn't appropriate just because of the darling puppies, but because the house is on a really big hill.  This weekend there just so happened to be a strong wind advisory, and found out strong winds are a lot different on a hill than in my house in the flat lands.  

As I sat in the living room with the dogs at my feet, trying to enjoy a relaxing Friday evening, I heard a heard a loud thump.  I got up to investigate, thinking perhaps one of the dogs had knocked something over.  Yes, they were sitting at me feet, but the thump scared me!  While I was looking around the house for the source of the noise, I heard an even louder howling noise.  The howling was followed by a terrifying Psycho-murder-in-the-shower shrieking.   Logically, I knew that the wind was probably responsible for the noises, but a nagging little voice in the back of my head kept reminding me that the first person to die in a horror movie is the one to try to explain away the signs of trouble.  By cinematic standards, I was a goner.

Since I am alive to write this, you've probably figured out that I lived through the night.  It seems there was no psycho killer out to get me.  But I still have a hard time believing that a bit of wind could cause such a ruckus.  So, I humbly submit for your approval an alternate explanation:

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Gus.  He was short of stature and dour of disposition.  In fact, he was such a total bummer to be around that people would run and hide when they saw him coming.  They'd whisper to each other, "Take cover!  Grumpy Gus is coming!  If he finds you, he'll tell you all about his inner ear problem and political instability in the Middle East!"

Grumpy Gus became even grumpier without anyone to talk to.  He devised a devious plan to lure potential victims into his gloomy clutches:  He pushed over large objects so that someone would run out to find out what happened.  Once someone stepped out, he pounced on him or her to describe his vertigo and all of the ways the world was going to heck in a hand basket.  Eventually, everyone caught on to his Gus's tricks and remained in their hiding places no matter what object fell.  Gus started howling so that the townspeople would rush out to defend their homes against an apparent wolf attack.  This worked for a little while, but the townspeople soon learned this trick as well.  Poor Grumpy Gus kept making up ever-more-disturbing sounds and wandered the streets in search of someone to depress.  

Gus continued to wander making horrible shrieks and moans until he actually wandered off of a cliff.  The townspeople, being so used to Gus's screaming, ignored his pleas for help thinking it was yet another trick.  Gus died at the bottom of cliff, but still wanders the streets howling and shrieking, looking for someone to talk to.

So there you have it--I was being haunted by Grumpy Gus!  I didn't talk to him, though.  He really is a downer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #6

It is an incredibly beautiful unbelievably mild February Friday, which can only mean one thing:  it's true that as soon as you have decent snow boots and a shovel, the stupid groundhog will go shadow-blind and spring will come early.  Oh, and it's time to unveil Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!

Hero of the Week:  Amazon Kindle
This nifty light-weight device allows me to carry thousands of books with me anywhere I go!  I love to read, and I love variety, so this is awesome.  Since the battery can run for a month without being charged, I don't have to worry about remembering a power cord or sitting in proximity to an outlet when I go on vacation or house/dog-sit for the weekend.  It's also easy to read in bright sunlight, so it's perfect for leisurely outdoor reading on a day like today.  And since there are no pages, I don't have to get annoyed at the breeze for trying to turn the pages before I'm ready.  I hate it when the wind reads faster than me!  Another huge plus is access to thousands of free e-books, ranging from classics to new and self-published authors.  True, a lot of the free e-books totally suck, but at least I have the opportunity to discover new voices.  

Villain of the Week:  Amazon Kindle
That's right--the Kindle is the week's villain too!  The reason for my ambivalence is a piece of very sad news I learned this week:  Borders is filing for bankruptcy and closing 1/3 of their stores, including my local branch.  I'm very distressed by this development because I love browsing in Borders, and their coffee is better than Books-A-Million's.  I love walking through the rows of bookshelves, visiting the brightly-colored children's section, and examining all of the random/cool/just plain odd gifts they offer.  Since the growing popularity of e-readers, especially the Kindle,  is a huge factor in the decline of the physical book store, I have no choice but to label it a villain.  (I do realize that I could also blame the economy, but my daily New Yorker cartoon calendar does that every day.  It's just too depressing now.)

That's all I have for this week!  Enjoy the sunshine and the weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ladies' Night

Who doesn't love Ladies' Night?  It could be a night out with drink and dinner specials, a rousing game of "What's Yours Like?" or low-key evening at home with glitter and a lap full of Mastiff.  (Or is that one just me?)  Often they involve some sort of misguided attempt at beautification.  One of the the great mysteries in life as far as I'm concerned is why things that are supposed to enhance beauty make me look like some sort of sea monster.  

Don't get me wrong--I'd live in Sephora à la From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--but I do find it ironic that a large percentage of beauty products are goopy and funny-colored.  Consequently, a ladies' night involving said goopy products represents a deep level of trust and friendship.  It takes a lot of guts to look that hideous in front of people.  I'm grateful to have the kinds of friends who, while they may take pictures of me looking terrible, usually don't post them on Facebook.  And ladies, if I don't bother to get dressed or put on makeup to hang out with you, it's just an expression of love.

When you have a moment, check out our latest birthday card which celebrates this very special bond:  And come back tomorrow for Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Andrew and Geneva: A Love Story

I hope everyone had a wonderful love-filled Valentine's Day!  And for those of you who, like me, spent the evening home alone doing your taxes while eating a frozen cheeseburger, I hope you got a lot of yummy candy on sale today.   Since Valentine's Day is in fact a holiday created by the greeting card industry, I have a special post-Valentine gift for you all -- a love story.

Meet Andrew.  Andrew may seem like a chauvinist pig, but he likely has a heart of gold.  He spends his days doing something manly like working construction or yelling at people.

Meet Geneva.  Geneva seems like a strong confidently woman, but she has a vulnerable insecure side.  She spends her days doing some job which is challenging, yet rewarding.  Her coworkers respect her, but her loser boss takes all the credit for her work.

Andrew and Geneva meet through some crazy random happenstance--he spills coffee on her in the elevator as she's on the way to an important meeting with her loser boss, but he refuses to pay her dry cleaning bill.  They are instantly irritated with each other but are secretly attracted because he's so handsome and she looks pretty while drenched in coffee.

Andrew and Geneva continue to be thrown together because G's loser boss brought A in on some manly business deal.  While constantly working late in the office, Geneva begins to see Andrew's heart of gold, and Andrew begins to see Geneva's softer vulnerable side.  They fall madly in love.

Tragedy strikes!  Andrew and Geneva's business deal crashes in scandal due to the loser boss.  Both of our heroes fall into financial ruin and blame each other for not anticipating the problem.  They break up, and Geneva takes a job across the country to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart and career.

Following weeks of moping on both sides, Andrew realizes that he still loves Geneva.  He rushes to her apartment, but sadly she has already said her tearful goodbyes to her faithful girlfriends and left for the airport.  Andrew now needs to know what flight she's taking, but said faithful girlfriends won't tell him.  He gives passionate speech about how Geneva makes him a better man.  Completely convinced that they have witnessed Everlasting Love, the teary-eyed faithful girlfriends give Andrew the flight information.  Andrew rushes to the airport, buys a very expensive one-way ticket to an exotic location, and rushes to Geneva's gate.  He catches her just before she boards the plane and pours his heart out.  It turns out that Geneva still loves Andrew, too.  She won't move although she is currently jobless.  They magically live happily ever!


I hope you enjoyed this heartfelt and truly unique story.  Come back tomorrow for whatever I feel like writing.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #5

Happy Friday everyone!  It's time again for another edition of Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week.  Read on to see who made the cut this week.

Hero of the Week: Leslie Knope
I love the show Parks & Recreation, though I wasn't a fan when it first premiered.  Now I can't get enough!  I've re-watched the entire series on Netflix and am a faithful prime-time viewer.  I consistently laugh out loud for almost a full 30 minutes every Thursday at 9:30pm.  The reason the star of this fantastic show makes the list this week is because of a very special episode in Season 2 called "St. Galentine's Day."  In this episode, Leslie introduces us to the beautiful tradition of Galentine's Day:  every February 13, gather together for brunch to celebrate all of the wonderful women in your life.  During her Galentine's brunch, Leslie presents each of her gals with hand-crocheted flower pens, a 5000-word essay about why the recipient is special, and a mosaic portrait made from pieces of each woman's favorite soda bottle.  Personally, I have been blessed with so many strong and beautiful women in my life.  According to Leslie, this weekend is the time to honor them!

Villain of the Week: NBC News at 11
I don't normally watch this station because I like to watch Bob Ryan on ABC and the adorable Craig Melvin only anchors on the weekends, but for some reason I watch the NBC News at 11 this week.  Of course, there was a lot of negative news that was a huge bummer, but that's not why this station is a villain.  It makes the list because the presentation of their stories is ridiculous.  Rather than showing related video footage while the anchor reads the story or just keeping the camera on the anchor, this program shows generic clip art and adds key words in quotation marks as the story is read.  See the words "divorce" "foreclosure" and "toast" flash across the screen is not all that informative.  It just looks cheap and stupid.  For serious.

That's it for this week's edition!  Be sure to check out JA Greetings's newest online shop:!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Discovering Your Inner Imp

I think that we all have a little imp inside.  You know, a bright-eyed little troublemaker that whispers, "I know it's not nice, but it would be so funny!"  I think that this is the reason that shows like America's Funniest Home Videos and American Idol are so popular--because our inner imps love to see people get hit  in the head with something and sing really off-key in front of millions of people.  How can you explain the fame of Snooki except for the fact that she looks like a walking practical joke and we like to make fun of her for it?

There are situations in which it is important to keep you inner imp in check:
     --helping an old woman cross the street (it would not be funny to trip her)
     --job interviews (probably not a good idea to giggle when interviewer starts talking about duties)
     --funerals (while good for a chuckle, making foam snakes pop out of the coffin is inappropriate)

Still, I think that maybe we keep our imps on too tight a leash.  The desire to keep that little devil in check can drown our ability to make light of painful situations.  No, we shouldn't push people because it's funny to watch them fall, but I know it's hilarious when I fall down.  I once fell face-first off of a bus and was torn between laughing at my falling and laughing at the expressions of the witnesses who were trying not to laugh until they knew I was still alive.  Don't close the elevator door on a colleague because it's funny to watch his sweaty out-of-breath face after taking the stairs, but recognize that you probably look laughable after taking the stairs, too.

So remember, it's important to indulge your inner imp on occasion.  It needs to get some practice to help you laugh through difficult times.  And laughing is good for you.  Wikipedia said so!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Total Silliness

Today we posted a new birthday card which is one of my favorites because it's so completely silly.  In honor of the occasion, please enjoy some of the silliest/worst jokes I could find:

Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?  It was dead!
Why did the second monkey fall out of the tree?  It was stapled to the first monkey.
Why did the third monkey fall out of the tree?  It got hit in the head with a rock.
Why did the fourth monkey fall out of the tree?  Peer pressure.

What's Mary short for?  She just has little legs, I guess.

A patron at a restaurant asked the chef, "How do you prepare your chickens?"  "We don't really prepare them.  We just tell them they're going to die."

What is the difference between one yard and two yards?  A fence.

When she told me I was average, she was just being mean.

Corduroy pillows are making headlines.

What is the difference between a crazy rabbit and a counterfeit coin?  One is bad money and the other is a mad bunny.

I think that's enough from me for the time being, but feel free to share your favorite silly joke!

Monday, February 7, 2011

You've Got Time and You've Got Pants

Since I've been sick, I've been a little less cheery of late.  I was stressing out over all of things I had to get done and no energy to do any of it.  I was tired and cranky and generally just unpleasant.  Thankfully, Jack came over to put me in my place.

He came to visit me in one of his rare extra-sweet moods.  He ran up to give me a hug as soon as he walked in.  He prattled on about the silly brown monkey in Toy Story 3 (he knows how much I love monkeys) and asked me to come sit with him and watch Mickey's Clubhouse. After several hours of playing and reading books, Jack looked at me with a thoughtful expression as if he were about to impart great wisdom.  He said, "You know what, Aunt Jamie?  You've got time, and you've got pants."  He nodded his head emphatically with tremendous self-satisfaction and repeated his little aphorism a few more times for good measure.  Then he dissolved into giggles and said, "Haha!  I have pants too!"

my philosophical gila
I would never claim to know what is going on in my nephew's head; he's way too creative for me to keep up with.  Still, I can't help but wonder if what he meant to say was something along these lines:  You know what, Aunt Jamie?  You need to snap out of this funk and stop feeling sorry for yourself.  You have everything you need, and you'll get everything done eventually.  Until then, chill the heck out!  It's not like you're living in a cardboard box on the highway."

Yes, Jack does have my attitude.  During lunch, he looked at his mother and said, "What's your damage?"  I was proud; I taught him that phrase as soon as he began talking.  I appreciated the little talking-to he gave me because I think I needed it.  I cheered up significantly after that because I can't let a 4-year-old be smarter than me.  As it is, I think he's going to give me a run for my money in the card writing business when he gets older.  I really need to up my game!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #4

It's Friday, which means it's time again to single out the positive and negative influences of the week!

Hero of the Week: Costco
   I adore Costco for many reasons:  the cheap clothes, the piles of books and DVDs, the delicious samples, and smorgasbord of things I never knew I needed.  The reason it makes the list this week is because of one item in particular--the spinach salad.  I have always been of the opinion that the good thing about growing up is not having to eat vegetables.  Consequently, my vitamin and nutrient intake is not always what it should be.  The delicious spinach salad with its cheese and eggs and tomatoes and bacon and poppyseed dressing is good enough to make me eat healthy(ish).

Villain of the Week: Otitis Media (Middle Ear Infection)
    I've been sick this week, hence my total slacking.  I felt bad enough that I barely left my bed for days.  It sucks.  And I think that about covers it!

That wraps up this week's edition.  Check back next week for more, and be sure to check out our first birthday card at!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Reel Game of Life

Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if it were more like the Life board game?  I have.  It would take so much of the pressure off!  Everything is determined by chance, so you can't be held accountable for your actions.  There would be no worrying about finding a mate and building a meaningful relationship; at the appropriate time you'll simply be assigned someone who will fit perfectly in your plastic car and who won't talk back.  Not sure about kids?  Doesn't matter!  The appropriate number will be assigned to you, and they will all fit in your car.  This all sounds pretty good to me!  It would be nice to know that as long as I'm on the color-coded I will eventually get where I need to go.

As appealing as a "Life" life sounds to me, I have to wonder if it could be at all fulfilling.  I love the idea of avoiding blame for my failures (who knew greeting cards with killer dolls wouldn't be popular?), but there's no way I'm giving up the credit for my successes!  I like praise too much!  With this in mind, I'd like to make a suggestion for improvement to the "Life" model:  Every space should have at least 2 choices of how to proceed.  The game board would probably have to be designed by M.C. Escher, but it would add another layer of complexity and intrigue to the game which I think would make victory ultimately more satisfying.

On second thought, that might be too stressful.  How are the players supposed to make these decisions on every turn which could mean the difference between victory and defeat?  That's way too much pressure!  Some sort of guidelines need to be put in place to help inform all of these decisions to increase the chance of success.  Decisions should be based on the actions of people who always get what they want.  I am, of course, referring to fictional characters.  Every turn on the game board must be justified by the actions of a television or movie character.  Doesn't that sound like more fun?  Instead of a simple game of chance, Life becomes a mixture of classic board game, pop culture Trivial Pursuit, and those Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a kid.  Much more fun, and way more Life-like!