How Marie Got her Groove Back


When I was a kid we often went to Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center, which was like Chuck E. Cheese’s. Only better, because, well, do I really need to go into the many ways in which the coolest moose ever to appear on celluloid is better than a giant animatronic mouse? Plus Bullwinkle’s had a synchronized water show, you can’t beat that.


When we were unleashed upon the arcade, my sister and I always went straight for Skee Ball. We loved to play, but no matter how we tried, the ball just never went higher than the outer ring. I seem to have vague memories (my blog name is ironic, my memory is terrible) of later on living in a neighborhood where we had unfettered access to another Skee Ball venue, where we would spend every bit of change we could find trying to hit those upper rings. When someone did manage to hit one of the higher point rings the top of the machine would light up and a siren would wail announcing their triumph, and the tickets would spew forth in ropes.


But those inner rings were just as elusive to me as the volleyball net, the goal post, and the baseball flying with cocky tenacity at my septum. In contrast the basketball hoop was my friend, as was the dodgeball, no matter how many times I tried to let it down easily. One day, I told myself, I’d get that 10,000 point ring, and then I could die.

Last week my parents took us to Chuck E. Cheese’s for Max’s fifth birthday celebration. After we ate all he wanted to do was sit at the table with Grandpa and play with his Optimus Prime cake topper, but we still had a full cup of tokens. What to do?


I found my mom and Brad playing Skee Ball, Jessamine busily handing them balls faster than they needed them. So I decided to join in. For some reason Mom and Brad decided to then go elsewhere, either I smelled or they just felt that all would be right with the world only as long as one member of the family kept those balls flying.



I put in a token, and the balls came rumbling down the chute like… like… balls in a Skee Ball machine. I picked one up and held it in my hand for a moment, feeling its weight and the texture of the nubby plastic. All those memories came back to me then, of that puny little me and her dreams of Skee Ball elitism.

I began flinging balls. Tha-thump, tha-thump, WHEE! Smack. But something had changed. Maybe because I’ve been exercising, maybe because my arms are longer allowing for greater momentum on the upswing, maybe because Baby O distributes my weight differently and throws my balance in a more sportsmanlike direction. Or maybe it’s the fish oil?


I dunno, but suddenly I was making those inner rings. I lived in those inner rings. And not just the 1,000 point ring, I was hitting the 4,000 and 5,000 point rings like they were two inches from my face. Tickets were rolling without pause, pooling at my feet. A kid came and stood next to me, mouth agape in awe.


“How do you do that?” He asked.


I wanted to say something witty and nonchalant, but I had to be honest. “I have no idea!” I said. He walked away.


Just then I flung another ball. Tha-thump, tha-thump, WHEE! Smack. Right into the 10,000 point ring. It didn’t circle the rim, it didn’t hesitate, it dropped right in as casually as a dirty sock tossed into a hamper.


There were no lights. There were no sirens. There wasn’t even an audience. But I did it! I fulfilled my lifelong dream. And I did it again, twice, within the next five minutes.


A bit later, after having fed the reams of tickets into the Ticket Muncher, we stood with the throngs at the prize desk trying to decide which worthless junk we wanted. The same kid, my fan, came up to me and asked me how many tickets I’d ended up with. I showed him my receipt, 298 tickets, which included everyone else’s tickets too of course. He showed me his, 99 tickets. I congratulated him and he was a bit starry eyed.


The kids came away with two tootsie pops, two rubber spiders, a blue dinosaur, a styrofoam airplane, a beaded bracelet, and most of a birthday cake. And I came away with a little more bounce in my step.

Here it is, my self-portrait. Brad and my dad say it looks like a chicken. The chicken legs were a giveaway, but I didn’t realize how much the rest of it looked like a chicken as well. I guess that’s telling though, I do have fear and anxiety issues. Anyhoo, if you have one to share, put the link in a comment and I’ll edit it in, as I’m not set up for Mr. Linky on this site yet.

Psychoanalyze away!chicken

Here is Jacki’s, which is very creative by the way

And Lisa’s very “handy” contribution.

And Suzy, who makes the rest of us look like… well, like chickens. Who can’t draw.

Originally this was simply a detective novel spoof that I gave up on. But today Neil is having a Write Like the Opposite Sex Day contest, so I delved into the sewers of my abandoned drafts and pulled this one up for air. No way will it win, but here it is anyway. You can read my last spoof here.

“Can I warm that up for you Hon?” asked a raspy voice, sending a warm, moist breeze of carcinogenic ash across the table.

Detective Carmichael Marion Edge VII inhaled deeply and closed his eyes for a moment, absently scratching at the layers of Nicoderm patches on his bicep. “Yeah,” he said, “sure.”

He turned to look at his waitress, a pair of wobbly double D’s slung in a polyester hammock that crushed them into a single, tubular entity. He knew well the constellations of freckles winking back at him. Them and their cousins too, farther South of the equator. The left one was adorned by an embroidered patch that read “Paulette.” And so he called it, but was too embarrassed to ask the other its name. He ought to know and was too much of a gentleman to ask.

“You sure you don’t want a coffin nail? I got a spare pack in my locker.” She leaned over and poured what passed for coffee from a glass decanter, a light brown liquid that may or may not have passed through a pre-measured coffee filter unit.

“No,” he said. “I mean yeah, I’m sure.”

“Your call. I get off at two,” she said, and walked away, plastic heels grinding into the gritty linoleum.

He turned back to the rain streaked window and his target, the Mile High Club across the street. Once a parasite of the long closed municipal airport, at one time it aspired to some vestige of credibility but never quite managed it. It finally gave up in the late 90’s along with everything else. An old single engine turbo prop was still perched on the roof of the place, an old city landmark and proving ground for randy teenagers. The only reason they didn’t condemn the dump was its placement on the Historical Society’s preservation list; it held steady at number nine, well behind the old water tower and the lamp post Mayor Krenshaw had crashed into during the Great Budget Crisis of ‘73. And of course there were the bottomless pockets of the proprietor of Mile High, one Dooley Grimes.

Edge had been after Grimes for years, but until now the slimy bastard had kept the wheels of his operation as greasy as Paulette’s blouse after a turn with the deep fryer. Finally he’d messed up though, and Edge had the goods. And he’d deliver them as surely as Grimes had run over Edge’s Blue Tick Hound all those years ago.

God, he’d loved that dog.

Just then a man came out of the Mile High, a black silhouette against a blacker night. He paused just outside the door for a moment and seemed to lock eyes with Edge before turning to walk down the alley past a row of abandoned warehouses. Not Grimes.

He drained his coffee with a single gulp and stared at the residue stained fissure that ran across the bottom of the cup. When had he last slept? He wondered. Must have been 1987, the year he’d made detective. The year his mother succumbed to fatal cumulonimbus of the ginglymus. The year he’d lost his trust fund and all his savings on the stock market in one fell swoop, thanks to the “inside tip” of one Dooley Grimes.

It had been 21 years. 21 long years dreaming of revenge. 21 years of just scraping by, the single detective in a one horse ghost town where the most exciting thing that ever happened was when Tommy Tonkerson became Tammy Tonkerson and got her own talk show in Helsinki. And while Edge suffered in mediocrity, there was Dooley Grimes, slowly buying out the entire town and turning it into some kind of wannabe Route 66 hot spot. Like that’s what the town needed.

But Edge had him now. Everyone has a weakness, and he’d finally found Grimes’. An officer of the law, with a lot of time on his hands and a wealth of information at his fingertips, Edge had discovered, quite by accident, that Grimes was the city’s one and only registered Republican.

The lone Republican in a town full of Generation X blue collars who’d been out of work for nearly five years, ever since Kazinsky’s Kettle Korn, an American institution since 1951, had pulled out. The X’s had been producing Y’s and Z’s ever since, having nothing better to do, and the town was little more than a breeding ground for the Democratic party. They were a hot spot on every campaign trail, the very picture of a small town America with dreams refocused from enterprise to the social programs that kept them solvent. If the town was divided at all, it was by a fuzzy line that separated the Clintonites from the Obama… Ites.

And now their very favorite person, the man they’d come to see as their savior, turned out to be a die-hard corporation humping big hairy Bush lover.

And Edge was the lucky man who had him by the short and curlies.

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Netflix is evil. I have in my queue the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, the one with Colin Firth, who is supposed to be the best Mr. Darcy ever. I’m pretty sure this is the only version of P&P I have not seen, so I have been eagerly watching it creep up the list. In my queue. Qeueu. Q. Why the hello do they call it a queue anyway? This isn’t Britain! I have to look it up every time! And let me remind you I was school spelling bee champion two years in a row, back in the olden days before spellcheck!

So last week they finally sent it, along with The Magic School Bus, Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Except they only sent disc one. They sent me half of a movie. And we’re not talking about Legally Blondehere people, this is Pride and Prejudice! Not a series either, but a single film. Did they really expect me to placidly watch disc one and then just wait around for them to send the other half? It probably cuts off at a really crucial moment too, like when Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth or Mr. Bingley suddenly leaves Netherfield.

So I let Max and Jessamine have two days with The Magic School Bus, then I packed it off right away. Forgetting completely about Memorial Day and the lack of mail service thereon.

They’re just lucky I have ice cream.


So now I wait. Disc two is at the top of my queue now, and if they dare to skip it? I will be forced to take measures. And that’s all I have to say about that. Thank God for this, which has been occupying me in the meantime. Jim and Pam! Pam and Jim!

Which Bennett sister are you? I was sure I’d be Mary but I’m Elizabeth. Psh. Here is a video I found of Mr. Darcy’s finest moments, for all my P&P sisters:

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If you were stranded on a desert island and had to choose just one book to read for the rest of your life (no rescue is imminent), what would you choose?

It was hard, but I managed to whittle it down. I’d have to go with The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Cider House Rules by John Irving, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, all of Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables, the Twilight series, the complete works of Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson, and about 150 others.

Yes, I did say one book. Because I’ve got this.

And it holds about 160 complete books.

What is this thing? It’s a Sony Reader Digital Book. It works pretty much the same way as an ipod, just with different media (although it does have an MP3 player built in as well). You just go to the ebook store to purchase books, download them to your library, and upload them to your Reader.

This thing has been a real lifesaver for me. You all know what a huge reader I am, but not having a car makes it difficult to get to the library very often. When I do go to the library I’ve been finding myself compromising on the quality of books I choose because I’d rather read something I can hold easily for long periods of time, something small and light. So often I’ll end up with Nora Roberts instead of Thomas Pynchon. Okay, Thomas Pynchon is over my head, but you know what I mean. Now I can read anything I want without contracting tennis elbow.

I also really like the bookmark feature. People like to give me bookmarks because they know I read a lot, and I like bookmarks. Unfortunately, so do my kids. They have a collection hidden somewhere that looks suspiciously like mine. They pull them right out of my books and I never see them again, and it takes me a good five minutes of flipping around trying to find my place again. I don’t mind dog-earing my own books, but not library books. So I tell myself I’ll just remember the page number, but it escapes me the moment I snap the book shut. Digital bookmarking saves me a lot of trouble.

But I’d have to say my favorite feature is that it comes with “dummy cards,” information cards you can hand out to people that want to know what on earth that thing is you’re staring at. I think I’ll make some dummy cards to hand out to people that want to ask me stupid pregnancy questions or why I’m so skinny. My brother gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that says “Judge me for my size, do you?” But maybe a card would be even better.

The Reader came with a generous 100 book credit too, so considering I read two or three books a week, I’m set for at least another eight months. At $300 these things aren’t cheap, but neither is an ipod, and the 100 book credit pretty much negates the cost.

So while you’re sitting there on your desert island with a ragged copy of your favorite book, I’ll be plush under a palm tree with my reader, my laptop, and a frosty pina colada. Because my island comes with an all-inclusive resort too. Oh, did I fail to mention that?

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No, seriously. It is. My wonderful sister-in-law, Sarah, is negotiating my move to my own URL even as I type. I’ve been packing all day, and I am exhausted!

I’m excited though, moving to a solid URL is kind of like graduating from high school. Will I move on to great things, or will I get knocked up and drop out of beauty college and end up working at Subway?

And then of course there’s the merchandising, and that’s great. I think we can all agree that if there’s one thing this country needs more of, it’s merchandise. I’ve got some ideas for that. A lot of bloggers go into merchandising, but they just don’t seem to use their imaginations. Do you really need another logo t-shirt? Mouse pad? Coffee cup? Tote bag? Didn’t think so. Honestly, who uses a tote bag anyway? Here’s what I’m thinking.

We’ve got the Memarie Lane flash drive. It can hold up to 2 GB of Memarie schtick! And get this. It doubles as a keychain. I know, goundbreaking, isn’t it? Where do I come up with this stuff?

The Memarie Lane osmosis patch, which was actually developed for me by my cousin, the brilliant Dr. Electrica Venue. Now you can have my feed filtered directly into your bloodstream. This patch is revolutionary in that it is also bi-directional, allowing you to leave comments just by thinking about them! Still working on the spell-checker function though.

But that’s not all! These patches contain microchips that allow me to track your every move, thought, and blood pressure fluctuation. That helps both of us, because while I have the benefit of controlling your mind and turning you into my evil minion, you get around the clock health monitoring. I’ll know you’re having a heart attack before your heart does. In fact, I’ll know everything!

The Memarie Foam pillow. I know that many of you have fantasized about sleeping with me, and now you can! This is the uncontoured design, I’m still waiting for the contoured prototype. The label on the front is actually a pocket that hides a silk bag full of lavender and flaxseed, which you can throw in the microwave in the winter or in the freezer during the summer. The pillow is actually hollowed out there to prevent lumpiness. So you get the calming scent of lavender, temperature control, and unparalleled comfort. Sleeping with me is a multisensory experience!

And last but not least, the Memarie Lane line of scrapbooking materials, the best way to preserve your MemarieBilia. I don’t get the whole scrapbooking craze myself, but a craze it is. So what makes my scrapbooking kits different from everyone else’s? Mine consist not of cookie-cutter little frou-frou things, but of actual scraps. Each kit will include:

  • Headline letters from my Sunday paper, perfect for assembling the ultimate ransom note
  • Canceled stamps from my mail
  • Candy bar wrappers (brands may vary)
  • Expired coupons
  • Hair from my shower drain, which can be braided into decorative cording, tied into lovely bows, or substituted for lost baby locks.

I have more ideas still in zygote status as well. Right now I’m working on a collaboration with Krispy Kreme and Dairy Queen to design my very own ice cream / donut dish, a project very close to my heart. I’ve also got some irons in the fire with Breyers and Stouffers for a line of frozen dinners just for pregnant women (with flavors like MemarieBerry Cheesecake Swirl and Frosted Brownie Pretzel Cream Pie), and here’s the kicker: no cooking is necessary! You just open the box straight from the freezer and dive in. Each meal contains 25% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Why no one else has thought of this is beyond me.

So there you have it, I’ll let you know when the new site is fully operational. And I’ll be adding a Suggestion Box for more merchandising ideas. If I use your idea, you’ll get a free subscription!

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So what did you do at church today? While pastor Gary continued the neverending saga of Paul and Silas (it does end eventually, right? I mean, they died, didn’t they?), I ate a breakfast of two eggs over easy, hash brows, one piece of toast with margarine (ew), two slices of bacon, and a package of stale donuts covered in brown wax that was meant to taste like chocolate. I also drank some water and doodled.

I drew a self portrait. That should be alarming for two reasons.

1. I cannot draw. I can’t even make a convincing stick person.
2. I am generally opposed to doing anything that has ever been done by an angst ridden college student who uses a flat iron and cuts herself.

But I did, I drew a self portrait. In a small lined notebook from WalMart. And it was therapeutic, especially after all the wallowing I did yesterday. In fact, it led to even more wallowing, but of a much more constructive variety.

At some point this week I’m going to attempt to transpose this self portrait in a more legible fashion and have my dad scan it, and I will post it next Monday. I’m curious to see what you all think about it, not of my artistic ability, which I assure you I have none of, but of the symbols I used and what they might mean to you. If anyone else would like to do a self-portrait, whether it’s drawn or photographed or written, let me know, and if there’s any interest I’ll put up a Linky when I post mine June second.

You can define “self-portrait” however you like, mine is purely conceptual. I think a self portrait should be more about who you are than what your face looks like. The photograph above is a self-portrait by Andre Gunther, which makes me think of my favorite Parisian blogger.

No buttons, no viral tagging, no showing off, just self-discovery. So if you’re going to do it, say so in a comment. There are few things more embarrassing than an empty Linky widget.

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Altar Ego

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Yes, I spelled it “altar” on purpose. Just in case you were wondering. It’s called irony. Or something.

Today is a bad day for me. I knew that it would be the moment I opened my eyes and saw the same wall, the same closet door, the same stacks of the same books I see every same morning.

I sat down to my Google Reader with a cup of coffee, and found all these blogs speaking to me, saying things their authors would never have intended. The blogs told me that my life sucks and my blog sucks and the forecast doesn’t look good either.

My mom came bearing Starbucks. She told me that she Googled her name once to see what came up, and she found another woman with her name that had a condo on every beach, a veneer on every tooth, a flashy ring on every finger. It was like she’d discovered her alter ego.

I wonder if there’s another one of me out there? A me with a more interesting, more privileged life, who can just go buy clothes when she wants or needs them, and find some that fit right there on the rack. A me with a dayplanner filled past the margins with notations and scribbles that must be consulted before the smallest engagement can be committed to. A me who knows how she’s going to pay her rent and doesn’t even have to think about it. A me with all the sorts of things that are so ordinary to everyone else and yet so unobtainable for this me. And which me is the true me?

Maybe the privileged one is out there dreaming of a simpler life, just staying at home with the kids all the time and never having anywhere to go or even any way to get there. Maybe she’s doing it right now, sitting on a settee at an awful baby shower with a glass of sorbet punch, cursing me with her daydreams of simplicity.

If you see her, slap her for me.

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A few years ago Brad and I had our picture taken by one of those traveling photographers that dresses you up in vintage clothes and snaps a vignette so you can have something nice to hang up next to your Billy the Big Mouthed Bass. It was a Western bar set, so they dressed Brad as a gunslinger and me as a “floozy” (their word, not mine). Except when we got the picture I simply looked like a kindergarten teacher in fish net stockings five sizes too big.

No matter how I try, I can never be convincingly bad. Maybe that’s why I always root for the bad guy. It’s not that I play devil’s advocate exactly, more that I tend to be empathetic to a fault, feeling the pains of not just the Supermen of the world, but the Lex Luthors as well. Think about it- An all-powerful alien descends upon your planet, capable of all sorts of freakish things. Wouldn’t you try to stop him too? Think of everything we could learn if he was turned over to Science! I’ll bet one of his toenail clippings could cure all sorts of horrible diseases. But he stubbornly hordes them just so he can try to get into Lois Lane’s Anne Tylers.

Here are a few of these defamed personalities, and my arguments for their acquittal.

Nurse Ratched. She took a run-down, mismanaged psych ward and turned it into an efficient piece of finely oiled machinery. Then that reprobate McMurphy -who, must I remind you, is a criminal- comes along and destroys it all. Why? Because he’s bored. Chief makes some interesting arguments, but in the first place you have to recognize that the guy is crazy. In the second place, the things he complains about are the same things we all complain about. Routine. Monotony. Being forced to swallow bitter pills. The Man. Except in this case The Man is a woman. If she were a man, would they have tried the same thing? I think not. A man would be an acceptable authority figure. Her femininity works against her because they expect a woman to be more nurturing. What we’ve got here is not a sadistic nurse, but one lone, courageous woman struggling to bear the weight of misogyny and everything else that’s wrong in the world.

Nellie Oleson, the arch-nemesis of one Laura Ingalls, Walnut Grove’s resident goody-goody. Nellie was always my favorite character. Yes, she is spoiled, and says some nasty things, but you know what? So does Laura. And you know what else? Laura always hits first. I was looking through old video to make sure my memory served me correctly, and sure enough, for every one of Nellie’s sneers, there’s Laura sneering even harder, fist at the ready.

Nellie was also a lot more interesting than Laura. She was adopted, she’d lived in the city, she was in general a more adventurous spirit. And while I normally favor the brunette in any such altercation, Nellie simply had better hair.

Joan Crawford was ahead of her time. If she was around now, parenting under the same circumstances, she’d be paraded on Katie Couric and HGTV. Now there are drugs for people suffering from OCD, and olympic sized swimming pools full of understanding. Then, all they could see was villainy. But behind all the cold cream was a sick, lonely woman that just wanted to be loved.

And what was her crime anyway? So she had something against wire hangers. Does anyone likewire hangers? I watched the movie again, and I saw not an abusive mother but a bratty, disrespectful child. Crawford was a dedicated parent who took out her frustrations on grout. Big whoop.

Bill Lumberg, the soulless boss. Another case of someone being derided merely for his position in life. His staff ought to recognize in his glazed eyes and careless stance that he too is bored with his job. He doesn’t want to be there either. Look at him. Does he really look like he gives a crap about the 2000 switch?

His only joy in life is his car. He worked hard for that car, and for his parking space and nice office. He feels threatened by Peter because Peter reminds him of himself when he was a cubicle guy. I’m not saying I’d want him at my Superbowl party, but come on. Give the guy a break!

Mrs. Tweedy didn’t know what she was getting into when she married a chicken farmer. But she was smart and industrious, and had her eye on the future, and that is all she’s guilty of. That and her enjoyment of a nice chicken dinner, but who doesn’t enjoy a nice chicken dinner?

If you lived on an unprofitable chicken farm and were married to an apparent schizophrenic, wouldn’t you try to do something about it? If your very livelihood built an airplane and attempted to fly away, wouldn’t you go after it with an axe? Mrs. Tweedy embodies the American spirit of survival and ambition, even though she’s British. So why are we taking a chicken’s side over hers again? Because she has bad hair?

Next time you see someone being vilified, think about what their crime truly is. Are they really the embodiment of evil, or do they simply have a big heart for hairless cats and pinky rings? Are they really psychotic or did they try the neighborhood beauty college’s new Botox injection service, forever paralyzing one eyebrow? Just step into their shoes for a few minutes and you may see things differently.

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When attempting to replicate a McDonald’s soft serve hot fudge sundae with granulated peanuts-

(secondary note to self: find out why they call them granulated rather than chopped or some other synonym more suitable for IQ of average McDonald’s customer, and while you’re at it, find out what is so fancy about fancy ketchup.)

– do not, ever again, no matter the temptation, attempt the following procedure:

1. Retrieve ancient carton of vanilla ice cream from bowels of freezer
2. Scrape protective ice crystal covering from ice cream with heated ice cream scooper
3. Transfer remaining bits of vintage ice cream to bowl
4. Melt three bars of leftover Halloween fun-sized Hershey’s bars in the microwave
5. Dump products of chocolate microwave experiment over vintage ice cream
6. Attempt to both eat and enjoy.

– Rather, call Brad and instruct him to stop by McDonald’s on the way home from work and purchase an actual soft serve hot fudge sundae with actual imitation hot fudge containing delicious and gooey chemical stabilizers, and packet of actual granulated peanuts. If he then presents an argument against the wisdom of spending the last $1.08 we posses, remind him that his precious gnome collection continues to exist only out of love and benevolence.

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Like my new layout? It’s all thanks to Summer, who is both talented and surprisingly affordable.

It’s been awhile since I let my cousin write a post, so I agreed to let her write for WFMW this week. But I also wanted to plug in my own tip, so here it is in brief.

I’m really picky about my vitamins. The prenatal vitamins I use, Rainbow Light Just Once Prenatal, cost about $30 at local health food stores for a bottle of 90. I recently found this website, which sells them for $14, plus $4.99 shipping. I browsed a bit, and they really have incredible prices on all their nutritional supplements. I worried that maybe they’d be expired or otherwise damaged, but they turned out to be perfect. So I saved $10 and a trip to Whole Foods. Next time you need vitamins, check them out!

Okay, now here’s Electrica. I apologize in advance…


Dr. Electrica Venue has a PhD in Extrapolation from the prestigious University of the Principality of Sealand, where she also minored in both Nullification and Obfuscation. She now serves her Alma Mater as the dean of her field, and has made several televised appearances, on shows such as “Good Morning Sealand!” and “Great Sous Chefs of the North Sea.” Look for her book, The Proper Care and Heeding of Wives, at a bookstore near you!

We’re living in troubled times. The economy is terrible. Prices are up, pants are down, and lubricant seriously lacking. Everyone’s looking for ways to save money, even here in Sealand. My cousin Marie shared some recipes with you last week, and I passed several of them on to my chef. I’m very much looking forward to saving some money in that area. Like many of you I too have been looking for ways to cut costs, and the information I’ve found out there is disappointingly obvious. To save gas, make fewer trips! You don’t say! To save money on food, eat out less! Such insight!

So I put together some tips that you may not have thought of. They have certainly saved me oodles of money!

1. Instead of keeping both a cook and a maid, fire the cook and send your maid to a cooking school. I actually fired both and put Darren, my pool boy, in charge. I’m now only paying out a third of the payroll I was before and the results are quite satisfactory. In fact, I’ve finally lost those last ten pounds! In this picture he is trying to figure out where he went wrong with my breakfast. Naughty boy!

2. Re-think your next vacation. I was planning on doing space tourism this year, but when the economy got sour I made some new arrangements and decided to take several frugal vacations throughout the year instead. I went to Belize in February, and at this very moment I’m in Cannes for this quaint little film festival. In August it’s Kenya (safari time!), and in December, Dubai. All of these vacations combined do not equate even a fraction of what space tourism would have cost me. Staying closer to home really does save!

3. I don’t have children, but many of my friends and neighbors do. My BFF Saffron’s daughter, Marlynn, turned 11 a few months ago. Saffron was very concerned over the extravagance of children’s birthday parties, which really have become ridiculously overdone in recent years. She decided to do something low profile and save some money. So she booked Miley Cyrus to come out and play the party, and she was able to negotiate nearly $500 off of the fee by agreeing to cover all travel expenses for Miley and her staff. And she remembered the story about some airline saving millions by simply removing one olive from every salad, so she had her caterers do the very same thing, cutting nearly three dollars from her total. Next time a birthday approaches, think of the many ways you too might be able to cut costs.

4. If you’re planning to get married and have any amount of wealth, make sure to have a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up. My husband failed to do so, and now he lives in his attorney’s casita in Fresno while we finalize the divorce. And I’m in Cannes! *wink wink*

5. Here’s a tip I actually got from Marie’s husband, who is a car salesman. I wanted to trade in my decripit 2007 Cabriolet (which gets excellent mileage by the way, and has plenty of room for both Darren and Perez, my Goldendoodle puppy) for a 2008. Since the 2007 wasn’t quite paid off, Brad advised me to ask my insurance company about something called Gap Insurance. I tried to tell him I would never shop at Gap, but he insisted. He said it covers the difference between what the car is worth and what you actually owe, so the difference isn’t tacked on to the price of your new car. That little tip saved me nearly $20,000. I was so grateful I sent him a Hallmark e-card, thus saving money on a stamp as well. See, I’m on a roll!

You know, during the Depression, there were still plenty of millionaires. It’s all a matter of personal economy. A penny saved is a penny earned, I really believe that.

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