Men in tights — May 12, 2021

Men in tights

As I might have mentioned, I’m a recovering professional wrestling fan. As I also might have mentioned, my former fascination with wrestling — pronounced rasslin’ at the Goff Estate – used to surprise certain people.

I never understood why. After all, wrestling is a soap opera, featuring men in singlets and shorts. And if there’s one thing I’ve always loved, it’s a good soap opera, especially one featuring men in singlets and shorts.

Of course, the professional wrestling my siblings and I grew up watching on WTBS didn’t feature the over-the-top storylines that came to dominate the genre. It did have storylines, though. Not that I can remember any of them, but I can remember being heartbroken by the turn of a heel or when one of my favorites lost an important match.

I can also remember watching wrestling with my poppaw, the late, great Rufus Goff, but not with my dad, the late, great Burton Goff. Daddy was not a fan. He never let an opportunity pass to tell his children that the entire enterprise was fake and ridiculous and not worth our time. He’d cross his unibrow and say, “You know it’s not real.” Well, yeah. “Then why are you watching it?” Because.

Later, when we were adults and wrestling had morphed into a dazzling display of loud music and rude behavior, he would shake his head, sigh, and glance sideways at his children and grandchildren whenever he had to so much as endure a 10-second clip of a show. He must have been wondering where it had all gone wrong for him.

Perhaps I should have suggested to Daddy, a serious soap opera fan, that it was like a soap and the wrestlers were simply characters. Then again, in my analogy, I’m not sure which one would have been the Undertaker — John Black or Stefano. So, maybe it’s just as well that I kept that to myself.

Anyway, although I’m not a prude, over time, I started wincing more and more whilst watching wrestling. One night, I legit said to myself, “Self, I can’t do this anymore,” and I turned the channel. I haven’t watched in years, but I have tuned into A&E’s “Biography: WWE Legends.” They’re profiling eight legends — Steve Austin, Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mick Foley, and The Ultimate Warrior. If you’ve missed the original airings and you’re so inclined, check your local listings for the reruns.

The bios have given me a chance to discuss wrestling with my niece, Valerie, who alerted me to their existence, and to reminisce about my days as an active wrestling fan. It’s also given me the insight that if John Black and Stefano had solved their problems with a cage match, it would have spared a lot of people a lot of pain and heartache.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

May the fourth be with you — May 4, 2021

May the fourth be with you

Unlike other Star Wars galaxy fans of my generation, I didn’t grow up watching the movies. Indeed, I didn’t view my first Star Wars flick until a few years after the original trilogy had made history in movie theaters. What’s more, until that fateful Labor Day weekend when I happened across the first Star Wars movie on the TV, I had never had a scintilla of interest in the franchise.

But after that first viewing, I was hooked.

All these years later, on this Star Wars Day – May the Fourth – I’m still hooked. I have watched the prequel trilogy and the sequel trilogy and both standalone films, Solo and Rogue One. I enjoyed the former and loved the latter. Depending on my mood, I might make the bold statement that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie ever. If you disagree, we can duel with lightsabers.

Although my feelings for Star Wars lore have not led me to sample any of the cartoons, oops, I mean animated series, I have read three books detailing the rise of Darth Vader as well as one focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi, aka my favorite Star Wars character. Thus, I’m beyond pumped about the upcoming Obi-Wan series and, of course, I am a faithful viewer of The Mandalorian.

Other than the fact that today is May the Fourth – a play on the Star Wars phrase “May the force be with you” – why am I reminiscing about Star Wars?

Because I’ve reflected on the fact that, for the most part, I’m not a blockbuster kind of gal. I’ve consulted the abacus and, unless the math is wrong, I have seen exactly one Marvel movie and maybe one Justice League movie. That’s a maybe because I’m not sure if the Superman flick I saw falls under the Justice League umbrella. I’m not even sure I know what the Justice League is.

Furthermore, I tried to watch the X-Men movies back in the day, and I made it through two or three before giving up after I realized it’s the exact same movie with different dialogue.

Before any of my friends and family members remind me, yes, I remain a fan of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, and yes, I recognize those movies were blockbusters.

Otherwise, I’m sort of a film snob, so why am I a Star Wars fangirl? It’s not due to nostalgia because, as aforementioned, I didn’t watch the movies until I had exited childhood.

I used to think my interest stemmed from the Darth Vader character and his frenemyship with Obi-Wan, but neither of those characters are in The Mandalorian. And while Darth Vader’s – and Leia’s – appearance at the end of Rogue One elevates that movie from good to great, the film was already giving me chills before Vader and his red lightsaber showed up.

The best answer I can give myself is that the original trilogy featured a group of scrappy guys and one awesome gal who not only took on the evil empire, but defeated it in the face of overwhelming odds. Those other blockbusters feature superheroes or mutants with special powers. Sure, you can make an argument about Luke Skywalker’s DNA and The Force being super powers, but I can also make an argument that he was just a whiny kid.

So, maybe I’m just a sucker for underdogs who defeat fascists.

Happy Star Wars Day!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Word of the week — April 28, 2021

Word of the week

This space is brought to you by the word exsanguination.

This bloody tale began a couple weeks ago when Cady, a member of my cat army, started acting weirder than usual. She pranced around the house, looking toward the ceilings and emitting a strange noise that sounded like something between a cry and a moan.

I initially suspected she was trying to tell me a poltergeist had settled into the attic. Or, worse, that one or more vermin had breached the perimeter. Such concerns worsened when she repeatedly acted like a lunatic in the kitchen. Longtime readers might recall that rodents have tested my resolve over the years by sneaking in behind the stove. And that one rodent lost its life last year in said stove after being injured by and then chased by the cat army.

Anyway, due to Cady’s antics, I pulled out the stove and opened all the cabinets and drawers, but I saw no rodents or evidence of their presence. So, I went on with my life.

That’s what I was doing last Wednesday night, going on with my life, when suddenly, Cady bolted from the living room and sprinted into the kitchen.

When I joined Cady, I found her sniffing around the stove, which was still pulled out from the wall, like she was a detection dog looking for drugs. She also sniffed around the wall, the floor, and the side of the cabinet that leads to the countertop. I knew she was hot on the trail of something. But I checked and it didn’t look as if any of the steel wool that I had plugged into the small hole behind the stove – don’t ask – had come dislodged.

That’s when I thought I saw movement on the countertop. Surely, it must have been my reflection, right?

Wrong. Upon closer inspection, I saw a mouse scurrying across the countertop.

The mouse had no reason to fear me, so I picked up Cady and placed her within inches from the mouse. She didn’t hiss, she didn’t swat, she didn’t acknowledge its existence. Thus, the mouse scurried across the countertop and down the wall.

I assumed it left the way it came in. Noting there was space between the wall and the baseboard, I plugged the seams with steel wool – I should own stock in the product – and then turned around and exclaimed, “Expletive!”

The stove!

What if that mouse was biding its time in the stove?!?!

I don’t have the type of tool needed to remove the back of the stove, so I had to leave it for the night, well, morning because by this point it was past midnight. I had also noticed that the mouse had been feasting on the season’s last Cadbury egg, which had been waiting for me on the countertop. As you can expect, this last turn of events pushed me over the edge.

So, I left the kitchen light on for Cady, who would not leave her post beside the stove, and went to bed. Simon, the other member of my cat army, wanted no part of this adventure. To his defense, he is 14, and Cady is 16. They’re seniors. Besides, maybe the departed member of the army, the late great Alice Aurora Goff, was the rodent slayer.

These thoughts weighed on my mind and I didn’t sleep much. When I emerged bleary-eyed from my bedroom the following morning, I feared I’d find a family of mice living it up. I was prepared to shake their hands, give them the deed to the house, and vacate the premises.

Well, I did find one mouse in the house.

It was lying in the living floor, beside my rocking chair. I pronounced it dead by exsanguination.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Make use of — April 21, 2021

Make use of

Approximately six weeks ago – after months of deliberation – I cut the cable cord and switched to a streaming service that offers live TV as well as access to a library of shows and movies.

I can’t describe the process as painless. Indeed, there are aspects of cable that I miss including their handy onscreen guide and the old people TV stations. Otherwise, streaming and I were getting along fabulously until last Sunday night.

With a baseball game on the TV and the laptop in my lap, I was living the dream. Suddenly, an alert popped up on said laptop. It seems my Internet company was warning that I was danger of reaching the limits of my Internet usage.

Oops!

The company offered an upgrade – for a price – but any longtime reader of this-here space can predict my reaction to that offer. As soon as the game concluded, I stopped streaming and did not resume until my next billing cycle began six days later.

Yes, that means I missed Aaron Rodgers’ second week as guest host on Jeopardy!

At this point, you might be asking yourself two questions, “Self, didn’t she realize all that extra streaming would result in more Internet usage? Also, self, doesn’t she have unlimited usage?”

As for the first question, apparently, I hadn’t realized it.

As for the second question, I’m assuming you’re new around here. On the other hand, one of my besties, a person who has known me since college, asked the same question. As if I would pony up the money for unlimited usage.

For the final week of the billing cycle, I checked my usage obsessively. Thankfully, regular net usage doesn’t utilize many bytes. To be on the safe side, though, I didn’t watch any social media videos of cats and only accidentally shared gifs last week.

But I can’t live in a silent house. The over-usage was caused, in part, because I had been utilizing streaming music services during work days instead of listening to my music. I will not make that mistake again.

A bigger problem is that I was streaming nonstop the rest of the time. In fact, occasionally I streamed on the TV in the living room whilst simultaneously streaming music on my iPad as I walked on the treadmill in the evenings. I also streamed on the TV whilst reading. And cleaning. And cooking. And weed eating. And showering. And, well, you get the point. Such is my need for background noise that one weekend I streamed a lacrosse game. Or was it a match? Beats me because I know nothing about lacrosse.

I did have the good sense to turn off the TV and the streaming device when I left the house or who knows when I would have received the alert from the company.

Thanks to that alert, I didn’t go over. But if I had gone over because of, let’s say Aaron Rodgers, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But if I had gone over because of a lacrosse game/match that I didn’t even watch? Oh, I would have kicked my own expletive for that.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

An unwelcome guest — April 14, 2021

An unwelcome guest

A week or so ago, I was wasting time on social media when a story caught my attention. According to said story, a woman in South Carolina was alerted to a critter being in her kitchen when her “dog just went berserk.”

She initially assumed her dog had located a mouse, but when she entered the kitchen, she spied what she believed to be a stray dog. Keeping her eyes on the “dog,” the 85-year-old dialed 9-1-1. When first responders arrived an hour and 10 minutes later, the woman learned that the “dog,” who had remained pinned in a corner of the room, was actually a coyote who had gained entry into the house through a pet door.

The first responders used pet toys to lure the coyote out of the house through the pet door. The story did not detail the coyote’s fate, but the woman said she has started keeping the pet door closed at night.

What an excellent idea!

Indeed, I would go one step further and keep that pet door closed permanently. This story has highlighted the reason I don’t have a pet door – you never know what’s going to sneak inside your house. It could be a slithering snake or a rabid raccoon or a small psychotic human.

You just never know.

And this invasion doesn’t have to occur at night or with evil intent. You could be hanging out at your house in the middle of the day, wasting time on social media, when you look up and realize a squirrel or a possum or a baby bobcat has taken up residence on your sofa.

I understand the appeal of pet doors, especially for dog owners. Pet doors allow dogs the freedom to come and go as they please. They allow humans a measure of freedom, too. Humans don’t have to constantly jump up and down like a yo-yo for that canine who can’t decide if he or she wants to stay inside or outside or actually use the expletive bathroom.

It probably works for inside/outside cats, too, but that notion is foreign to me. In fact, my dog, the late, great Mia Frances, was only inside/outside because I had a fenced-in back yard. Still, one time a neighbor’s dog funneled his or her way under the fence and appeared, to my and Mia’s surprise, in the back yard.

I’ve also spotted various other critters, including snakes, rodents, and rabbits, in the yard over the years. Bunnies might be cute, but I would go berserk if one hopped into my house, which is why I do not have a pet door.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Power down — April 7, 2021

Power down

You might recall that a couple years ago I wrote in gushing detail about my obsessive love for my fitness tracker, Esmerelda or Esme for short.

As with other fitness trackers, Emse was the type of gal who alerted me every hour if I hadn’t gotten my steps and –.

Oh, you might have noticed with that “was” that I’m referring to Esme in the past tense. No, I haven’t murdered her, but, well, keep reading.

Approximately a year ago, Esme started exhibiting a few weird characteristics. Most noticeably, she credited me for exercising when I had been doing less than nothing. In Esme’s world, since I was allegedly burning a couple thousand calories a day, I could also eat a few thousand calories every expletive day.

Although this might not seem like a big deal, it meant there was no need for me to input my food into the app because, at the end of every day, I allegedly had oodles of banked calories just begging to be consumed.

Also, Esme started glowing in the dark. It was as if The Child from The Mandalorian had swallowed a lightbulb and then crept into my room, no doubt looking for frog eggs to eat. I could not sleep with that green light worming its way behind my closed eyelids, so I removed Esme at bedtime.

To review, all this meant there was no need for me to log my food or my sleep, two of Esme’s reasons for existing.

To make matters worse, Esme also started exhibiting issues with her battery. When I contacted the company, they said, yep, there’s a problem, so we’ll give you a discount on a new model.

Uh, no thanks.

I made do with Esme. She continued to buzz me hourly (assuming I hadn’t already gotten my steps) whilst providing me a handy way to keep up with my water and the days I legit exercised (I input it manually).

But a few weeks ago, the battery pretty much quit working. It would be at 100 percent at, let’s say ten o’clock, and down to 12 percent by noon. I found myself charging it every couple hours just to keep it from dying.

Then, after a week when I barely communicated with Esme due to a migraine, I said to myself, “Self, what are you even doing?”

Since that day, she has remained on the table.

And you know what? I’m still drinking water and I’m still exercising five days a week. Sure, I keep track of these activities by pen and paper, but trust me, I have enough of both.

And, no, I don’t jump up every hour on the hour to get my steps. To be honest, though, that’s a relief because Esme had become something of a nag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

It was a week — March 31, 2021

It was a week

This week, everyone was enthralled by the saga of a man who might or might not have found shrimp tails in a box of cereal and with a big-expletive boat blocking the Suez Canal.

As for the tale of the alleged shrimp tails…all I have to say is that I only buy brand name cereal when purchasing for someone else or purchasing for myself with a coupon. And I’ve never found anything but cereal in my boxes of cereal. You can extrapolate that to mean whatever you wish.

As for the big-expletive boat…I am not nearly as enamored with this story as are my fellow galaxy mates, but I do wonder how the big-expletive boat managed to become dislodged in the canal. Where was it going? Why was it turning in the middle of said canal? I dare say that Capt. Stubing never allowed the MS Pacific Princess to become stuck in a waterway.

Regardless, I haven’t spent much time worrying over these matters because I’ve been mourning the back-to-back deaths of actress Jessica Walter and author Larry McMurtry.

Walter amassed oodles of credits during her 60-year, Emmy-award winning career. But for many of us, she came to personify Lucille Bluth, the character she played on Arrested Development. Indeed, on the afternoon of Walter’s death, a friend messaged me that Lucille Bluth had died.

In the days since Walter’s passing, I have consoled myself by watching clips of Lucille and giggled again and again at her unparalleled ability to roll her eyes, judge another character with only her eyes and a frown, and deliver a biting line. All whilst holding a martini glass.

I was still mourning the loss of Lucille Bluth/Jessica Walter when the same friend messaged me about the death of McMurtry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove and oodles of other books.

The obituaries for McMurtry have described him as an unsentimental author of the American West. I’m simplifying it, obviously, but anyone familiar with his work would agree with that assessment. My sister, Kathy, has read dern-near every work of fiction McMurtry penned. This weekend, she told me she couldn’t finish one book in particular because it was too dark. I told her I can’t finish one series in particular because I know it will end with the death of the main character. As long as I don’t finish the last book, he will live forever.

Of course, no one lives forever, including McMurtry’s fictional characters. As I sit here, I can remember turning a page more than 20 years ago to discover the fate of a beloved character. I immediately threw the book across the room and I, a woman not prone to fits of sentimentality, began weeping. I briefly cursed McMurtry for killing the character and for letting the readers know her fate.

But he had to do so. He had to be true to his story. And such was the power of his stories and his characters that their fates still move me. I can always revisit the books, though, where I will find the characters alive and alluring.

Just as I can always re-watch Arrested Development and find Lucille judging everyone as she day drinks.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Food fight — March 24, 2021

Food fight

If you have indoor cats, you’ve probably noticed they begin to clamor for food as soon as they can see the bottom of their bowl. There are several theories as to why they do this, but at least two of them — poor depth perception, whisker stress (look it up) – suggest they eat from the middle of the bowl and, once it empties, have trouble seeing the food at the sides.

My cat army has another weird eating issue. They refuse to eat food that has fallen out of the bowl and onto the floor and/or food they have nibbled on that has fallen into the bowl.

It is maddening.

For starters, from my aged human eyes, it always appears that the bowl is full, and, thus, that the army should be happy. Trust me. That is not always the case.

Indeed, on a recent Saturday morning, I checked their bowl, saw that it was full, and proceeded to break my fast with a warm bowl of oatmeal. The army did not break their fast. Instead, they sat on each side of me, giving me pitiful stares.

I quickly deduced that the bowl was filled with fallen food and it was beneath my spoiled, privileged felines to feast on such filth.

But on that morning, I decided to make my stand. I had given in before, but not on this day. I am proud to say that I have never lost a staring contest with a cat. What’s more, I roll my eyes when folks compare an unmanageable task to herding cats. Pshaw. It might take some time. You might sport scratches for a few weeks, but you can herd cats.

You can force them to eat fallen food, too, and I was going to prove that if our standoff lasted days.

It lasted three hours and ended with me throwing out the bowl full of, to my aged eyes, perfectly acceptable food, and filling it with fresh food.

When I related this saga to other humans who live with cats, they repeated a variation of the same lines, “You should have known. They always win.”

True and true.

The cat army’s refusal to eat food that has previously touched their mouths and/or the floor has led me to this question – are big cats such as lions or tigers or even mid-size cats like bobcats and cougars so weird? And what about feral cats and outdoor cats?

Because something tells me that cats that survive in the wild are not going to stare at me for three hours and then run to the bathtub and howl with hunger pangs if I so much as suggest they nibble on a kibble that did not directly come from the bag.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A moment in the sun — March 17, 2021

A moment in the sun

In case you haven’t noticed, Daylight Saving Time commenced Sunday. And in case you haven’t heard, a bipartisan group of US senators have introduced legislation to make DST permanent.

Let’s make one thing clear – I don’t have strong feelings on this subject. Sure, it’s no fun losing an hour in the spring, but it’s one day. And, yeah, it’s no fun when the sun starts setting so early in the day come winter, but, well, I’ll address that later.

Apparently, I am the only person in the galaxy who doesn’t care that much about what we refer to at the Goff Estate as the time change. For decades, however, I have endured countless complaints from people who believe changing clocks twice a year is such an arduous task that it should be included in the World’s Strongest Man competition.

Our devices, such as computers, cell phones, and DVRs, are smart enough to change their own clocks. So, what are we talking about? Changing the clock on a microwave? An oven? In a car? A watch? A couple wall clocks? How long could this possibly take?

What’s more, I get the inkling that some people believe if we switch to DST for keeps, the sun will literally grant us an additional hour of sunlight every day. It will not. You might want to sit down for this. But there will still be only 24 hours in the day. The days will still have the same amount of sunlight regardless of what time is displayed on all those clocks in your house.

So, this means that, if we switch to DST permanently, the sun will rise at its regular time, but it will be dark when you go to work or to school or to the gym or to the clock store.

I’m fine with this, just like I am fine with the sun setting at five in the winter, because the sun has to rise and set some time. And maybe you are fine with this as well. But if you are not, then be forewarned: If this bill does pass and DST becomes the law of the land, then I don’t want to hear any complaints from you. If you start whining about how the mornings are so dark and depressing, I will hit you and/or throw something at you.

If you start whining about how there’s no point in having an extra hour of sunlight in the evening in the winter if it’s going to be too cold to go outside and talk a walk, I will hit you twice and/or throw two somethings at you.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

A strawberry jam — March 10, 2021

A strawberry jam

Last week, I found a good deal on strawberries and bought several quarts. Unfortunately, berries fall to ruin faster than even I, a known berry fiend, can eat them, so on Saturday morning, I decided to share the natural sweetness and prepare a cake for my loved ones.

I soon discovered two problems. Firstly, when I searched recipes, I realized I didn’t have all the ingredients for a made-from-scratch cake or even for an enhanced box cake. Indeed, I was taken aback to learn that uncooked gelatin comprises an ingredient in enhanced strawberry box cake recipes. Who would have thought of that? Secondly, I didn’t feel like getting dressed and going to the store to purchase said ingredients, including gelatin.

No worries, I said to self, I’ll just create my own recipe.

So, I capped and quartered berries and tossed them into a food processor that had languished in my cupboards for years. I had spied it in the cabinet, but I wasn’t sure what purpose it served, so it had never been used until December. Anyway, after processing the berries into pulp, I added them to the white cake mix, gave it a good stir, and then poured the batter into a rectangular cake pan.

I have to say that I had my worries about the cake from the beginning. The batter didn’t have that strawberry taste. What’s more, I had read that strawberries tend to turn cake mix gray, so I added color gel. But when it emerged from the oven, part of it looked pink and part of it looked…not pink or red or any natural color I have ever beheld.

Well, there was nothing I could do about the cake, so I turned my attention to creating the most amazing strawberry buttercream frosting in the history of the galaxy. As I whipped the cream cheese and butter, it wasn’t too runny or stiff. So far, so good. But then I added the powdered sugar and suddenly the frosting was so runny it almost leapt out of the bowl and smacked me in the face.

That’s not how life is supposed to work. Powdered sugar is supposed to make frosting stiffer. I researched the matter after the fact and learned I had probably beaten the cream cheese and butter too briskly before I added the sugar. And/or the temperature of my kitchen was too hot. I’ll have to keep those tidbits in mind.

Anyway, I added the strawberry pulp, which I had created with the loyal food processor, and finished the chore. When I arrived at the Goff Estate, I literally poured the frosting onto the cake.

After supper, a few brave souls sampled the cake. Here are their reviews:

“It’s okay.”

“It’s…good.”

“It’s not…bad.”

No one could find the right words to describe the cake. But I’m told the frosting, which had to be dipped out of the pan with spoons, had a good taste that, indeed, tasted like strawberries.

As the baker whose goal was to make a frosting that tasted like strawberries, I will take that as a win.

By the way, I ate a piece of cake, and you know what? It wasn’t okay, it wasn’t…good, it wasn’t not…bad.

It was expletive good.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.