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All the hubbub about the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview and its accompanying alleged North Korean threats against anyone showing/seeing the film, marketing strategy conspiracy theories, and censorship issues got me wondering if any other movies had caused a similar ruckus. After all, history tends to repeat itself. I challenge you to show me any recent headline that hasn't been seen or done before. And history proves me right in this instance, natch. Lots of movies have caused public uproars. Focusing on political films that directly target the leader of another country narrows the field considerably. Add debuting while said leader is still in power, and you get a very small sample size.

If you were ringing in on this topic on Jeopardy, you might answer, "What is The Great Dictator?", Charlie Chaplin's famous 1940 classic satirizing Adolf Hitler. However, another production caught my eye. I was delighted to learn there was an even earlier film by none other than the true kings of comedy: my childhood favorites, The Three Stooges. Their film, You Nazty Spy, beat Chaplin to theaters by several months. Moe Howard plays 'Moe Hailstone' aka Der Fuehrer, with Larry as 'Larry Pebbles' (Joseph Goebbels) and Curly as 'Curly Gallstone' (Hermann Goering). The 18-minute short film is full of Stooge silliness, physical humor, and so many puns, inside jokes and innuendo, I have to wonder how much of it the audience got on first viewing. After all, in 1940 there was no VCR, DVR,YouTube, or Wiki technology to ensure you got all the jokes.

Moe is the perfect Hitler (actually, with the addition of that little black smudge of mustache, any of us could pass). His stage persona as the bully of the threesome served him well as he ordered everyone around, shouted from podiums, and used that stiff arm salute to full advantage.

The plot thickens with the additional info that the three stars as well as the director, Jules White, were all of Jewish descent. It is tempting to cast these comedic icons as living dual lives as intrepid resistance leaders, but history does not quite bear this out. In 1940 it was common knowledge that the Nazi regime was anti-Semitic, but Jews were just one among many groups they targeted. It is doubtful either the Stooges or White were aware of the extent of the atrocities being committed or planned at the concentration camps. The idea for the short film may simply have been a combination of revenge fantasy, savvy co-opting of current events, and an irresistible desire to satirize such a ripe subject.

It is also tempting to envision You Nazty Spy as a heroic artistic statement that re-focused public opinion and precipitated the eventual fall of the Third Reich. Alas, again historical data points otherwise. Before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, many Americans felt strongly about staying out of the European conflict. The faltering economy during the Great Depression, plus lingering memories of the atrocities of World War I had few in a mood to get involved in another foreign dispute. I tried to find out how the film was received; no luck. As a short film, it likely would have been bundled with other media such as a full length feature, a news reel, etc., thus making it difficult to determine how it fared individually.

The film was lucky even to have been made. Prior to our current movie ratings system, there existed a movie censorship system known informally as the Hays Code. The Hays Code was developed as a sort of moral compass for a movie industry that many felt had gone off the rails in the early part of the 20th century.  The code listed many topics and behaviors to be avoided. Movie producers/directors submitted their screenplays to the censor. Movies that passed muster got made. Movies that didn't, didn't. You Nazty Spy violated the Hays Code as it related to causing 'willful offense' of foreign nations, but likely squeaked through because it was a short film - full length feature films were the focus of the censor's scrutiny.

Messrs. Rogen and Franco have some large shoes to fill, three pairs' worth between the two of them. They're funny, but Three Stooges-level funny? Only time will tell. I don't know if the writers were aware of You Nazty Spy as they wrote The Interview. There are some interesting parallels to be drawn between the two films, never mind the 70+-year gap in production timeline:

Satire Sells

The Three Stooges were busy fellows. They were under contract to shoot several short films annually. With such a long career, it probably wasn't long before the idea well began to run dry. Then, as now, current events to the rescue! And what better way to bring attention to a grim, humorless topic sore in need of public awareness than education masquerading as comedy? If you don't believe this, compare the box office earnings of most wretched, juvenile, bathroom humor bomb to the highest of highbrow documentaries. Not. Even. Close.*

Beware the Bomb

The international hubbub over The Interview (whether real, or, according to the conspiracy theorists, a marketer's wet dream) made the term 'box office bomb' fearfully literal. Anonymous bomb threats to any theaters showing the film probably had many re-thinking their holiday viewing plans. The Stooges had their own bomb scare, but not over their Hitler film. Earlier in their career, they had a less than amicable split with fellow performer Ted Healy. Healy threatened to bomb theaters where Three Stooges performed if they pursued a career without him. Thankfully, both threats were empty (so far).

The End - Spoiler Alert

If you finish your dinner, you get to wear your dinner's hat

Both films chose to off their protagonists. I haven't seen The Interview, but I understand Kim Jong-un loses his head in a rather violent fashion. In You Nazty Spy, Hitler and his cronies don't make it out alive, either, although their demise is not shown on screen - only suggested by a roar and a belch. The Stooges going for subtlety - imagine that!

I haven't seen The Interview. I was all for seeing it for solidarity, but the more this story unfolds, the more I wonder if this hasn't all been a huge publicity stunt. I think I'll wait it out. I've got 219 more Stooges films to catch up on.

*For example, 2014 figures for #78 out of 100, the comedy Sex Tape earned $38.5 million domestic. Top grossing documentary 2014, something called America which hardly seems to fit my 'highest of the highbrow' requirement, but whatever: $14 million. Citizen Four (about Edward Snowden) is perhaps a better match, raking in a (relatively) paltry $2 million. Figures from

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One of Google's MLK Day doodles

Recently we celebrated MLK Day, a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. National government agencies got a paid vacay. Where I live, schools were closed.  I quantify that because state and local entities don't necessarily have to follow along with national holidays. Most do, but there is some wiggle room there. The local entities have to budget for paying the employees for that day off, so they have some say in it.

Side note: originally there was some resistance to the MLK holiday from a few sectors, most notably Arizona. By refusing to support the national holiday passed in 1986, they lost hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, and Super Bowl XXVII (27 for those of you non-nerds who didn't take Latin in high school) moved to Pasadena in protest. Ouch!

We are fairly well covered with national holidays as follows:

January - New Year's Day 1/1, Martin Luther King Jr. Day 3rd Monday

February - President's Day 3rd Monday



May - Memorial Day last Monday


July - Independence Day July 4


September - Labor Day 1st Monday

October - Columbus Day 2nd Monday

November - Veterans Day 11/11, Thanksgiving 4th Thursday

December - Christmas 12/25

Look at those four gaps just begging for more celebrating. This puts me in mind of all the oddball holidays. Not a single day of the year is without one. Now we could go for the low-hanging fruit to plug those gaps and add the obvious (St. Patrick's Day, April Fools, Father's Day, etc.) But where's the fun in that? If I could wave a magic legislative wand and add one more national holiday, here's my short list. It was very difficult for me not to make every choice food-related, but I did my best.

March - Must be tough competition with Easter sometimes falling within March. I mean - Plumbing Day (11)? Buzzards Day (15)? Thank goodness for Crayola Crayon Day (31).

April - is my new favorite month. It has Beer Day (7), Pillow Fight Day (5), and Grill Cheese Day (12).

June - June is struggling, with Eat Your Vegetables Day (17), Blood Donor Day (14), Sewing Machine Day (13), and Insurance Awareness Day (28) zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. However, it is redeemed by two capital holidays: Flip Flop Day (20) and Sauntering Day (19). Let's make EVERY day 'Sauntering Day'!

August - Wow, and I thought June was struggling. Love Litigating Lawyers Day (31)? Really? I'm gonna hafta go ahead and choose either International Lefthanders Day (13) or Creamsicle Day (14) with Fresh Breath Day (6) a very tempting option also. Here's my dad's contribution to Fresh Breath Day: ask your friend if they have a breath mint. If they say 'no', you say, 'here, have one of mine'.

If you didn't see anything you liked in the above suggestions, how about coming up with a holiday or two on your own? It is quite a process to get a day declared a national holiday. All that pesky politicking and budget wrangling pressure spoils the fun. But it appears if you don't care about the national bit, all you have to do to declare a day a holiday is to declare it. I am declaring today Finish Your Blog Post Day. Tomorrow is going to be Take A Break From Blogging Every Day Day.

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Here we are into the last week of the year already. (Where did the time go? I'm lookin' at you, Netflix!) The pressure's on! In addition to concerns about how to avoid personal disaster resulting from juvenile antics on New Year's Eve, we are also burdened with adulting by coming up with some meaningful New Year's Resolutions. Without careful planning, the sparkling euphoria of January 1's fresh start will disintegrate into the mildewed bath tile of mid-January and its humdrum routines. It's okay, don't be shy, go ahead and 'fess up. You are not alone. Heck, you probably forgot you will need any resolutions until you read this!

Some of us fail in our resolution goals quietly, dispiritedly slipping back into our old ways like a prisoner slinking back to the corner of his cell even when the jailer has left the door wide open. Others choose the flashier route, loudly cursing the resolutions back into the tiny mental shoebox we banish them to when we are exhausted by their stringent demands. I'm no different. I have been wasting time with this resolution game for most of my life and have rarely had a successful attempt (successful defined as declaring a behavior change and sticking to it for the entire year). Everyone I know who has ever brought it up has failed within days.

As a female, my resolutions always have something to do with appearance. Specifically, weight. After many years of trotting out Old Trusty, 'lose ten pounds', and seeing that was going nowhere fast, I tried a new tack. I adjusted Old Trusty to the more forgiving 'lose weight' - grams, ounces, whatever! - in hopes of making it easier to achieve and maintain. FAIL. Another adjustment included avoiding this or that food, increasing physical activity, no more drive-thru, etc. Fail, Fail, Fail. There came a day when I realized it was too demoralizing to face Resolution Failure. Avoiding failure was more important to me than the potential goal of achieving something positive if I did happen to succeed in my quest. So I just stopped doing them for a while, which left New Year's Day kinda flat as a holiday IMO.

I got to thinking maybe part of the problem was that my resolutions had no pep, no pizzazz. Very boring and everybody else is doing it, too. So I did a little Googling to see if there were a more attractive, compelling resolution out there for me to try.

Spend More Time With Family - Nah. My husband is retired and we are empty-nesters living far from extended family so that one is not logistically feasible. The hubs and I spend plenty of time together as it is.

Fitness - See above. Been there, done that. Yawn.

Lose Weight - See above.

Quit Smoking - Hey, this one has potential. A worthy goal. Wait - I don't smoke.

Enjoy Life More - This one has me puzzled. I don't know how I could increase my enjoyment rate without an accompanying lottery-sized financial windfall. Maybe 'Enjoy Life More' is secret code for 'Play The Lottery'.

Quit Drinking - Hard pass.

Get Out Of Debt - If I had any, I would.

Learn Something New - Okay, this one has merit. I like that it is adding something rather than subtracting/restricting an existing behavior.

Help Others - Is it me, or does this one smack of desperation that you can't think of any better resolutions??

Get Organized - Ugh. This one falls into the Lose Weight category for me. Admirable, but complete drudgery. Where's the sizzle??

This list, while perfectly legitimate, leaves much to be desired IMO. Bore. Ring. Plus, I am noticing that while these suggestions have some merit, even if you folks are doing these things, there is very little benefit to ME. So I think I will attempt to 'Help Others' and offer a few fresh ideas that might benefit all of us.  Here is my personal list of five things I would like to see more of you resolving to do. Five is a nice number, not too heavy, not too light. I like to think I have a little something for everyone.

1. Stop The (Forwarding) Madness - if you see a great email and you want to share it with me, please do. But remove that idiotic and somewhat threatening demand that I forward it to EVERYONE I KNOW.  This causes an automatic and uncontrollable twitch in my right index finger, and it migrates ever so slightly from the Forward button to the Delete key. If it is amusing or informative, I just might forward it. If it has that annoying phrase, not a chance in hell. UPDATE: This now also applies to Facebook posts demanding that I share with everyone to demonstrate my friendship or other positive personality traits. Any FB posts with even a hint of emotional blackmail will result in an immediate Ignore.

2. Leave The Panhandling To The Panhandlers - Stop hitting up friends and family to jack up sales of whatever side project you have going to make a little extra moolah. If you can't make it selling to strangers, just give up now. Might as well just ask me for the cash.

3. Know Your Knobs - See that skinny knob sticking out from your car's steering column? It's a cool new invention that, when used properly (or at all),  keeps your car from colliding with thousands of others sharing the road with you. I believe it is called a 'Turn Signal'. Use it.

4. Cover Thyself - Gents, unless you are Dwayne Freakin' Johnson, put a shirt on for crying out loud. Believe it or not, nobody wants to see your man boobs/beer gut/back hair. I don't care if it is a rain poncho, an old table cloth, your wife's bedtime XXXXL t-shirt, a modified garbage bag with holes punched in for head and arms (don't pretend you haven't resorted to that in emergencies) - please just cover that up. And apologies to Mr. Tebow.

5. Trust The Effort - Ladies, how about a little effort before you leave the house? It depresses me to see you at the Piggly Wiggly in your sloppy gray sweats and hair to match, that hole in the heel of your sock revealed by your tatty house slippers, sagging bra-less mammaries simulating (or in some cases doubling) a spare tire. Why not wear that t-shirt your kids gave you last Christmas that says 'I Have Just Given Up'? Important note: I need one of you (and just one, please) to ignore this resolution. You serve as a cautionary tale to the rest of us.

You will be happy to know I have already espoused not one, not two, but ALL FIVE of these worthy goals and am actually having great success with all of them so far this year. Number 4 is a snap for me. I  admit I sometimes struggle with #5, but so far am holding firm. I fervently hope not to be caught at The Pig in my slippers in 2018.

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No, that title is not a typo (although until this thing catches on, I think it is going to hurt me on SEO). While noodling around for a title for this post, I think I discovered an un-met vocabulary need. We have a lovely word to describe the day before a big event: 'eve'. Short, easy to pronounce, and everyone knows what it means. Why don't we have a similar word for the day after? I propose we borrow the positive characteristics of 'eve' and call this day 'ove'. Short, easy to pronounce, and even if you don't know what it means (yet), you can sort of guess it might be short for 'over' as in, Christmas Is Over. If your mind went to 'ovaries' instead of 'over', you are probably a middle-aged woman like me, and you know at our age 'ovaries' is synonymous with 'over', so there ya go!

On this Christmas Ove, you may find yourself reflecting on the act of giving. Gift-giving is definitely an art. I don't consider myself an expert, but I am definitely past the apprentice stage. My son was opining that he did not feel like he did a particularly good job of giving this year. Not so much from the monetary value of the gifts, but from the selection and presentation. I told him there are a few tricks of the trade in crushing it as a gifter. Some I learned from watching others more masterful than I. Others, I learned from either giving or receiving things that were, frankly, Gift Fails.

If you are wondering why it matters what you give someone as long as you give SOMETHING, because 'it's the thought that counts', you are either not mature enough to benefit from the forthcoming advice, so you can stop reading now; or you are a complete narcissist, in which case you can share this post with your friends and relatives to ensure quality gift-giving to yourself in future.

I remember clearly as a teen the Christmas when I discovered the true joy of giving. And I am not kidding or being trite. It was the first time I remember being WAY more interested in giving than receiving. My dad's employer had a good year, and the big boss was handing out big bonuses. So Dad decided to get my mom a big wow gift (jewelry) for Christmas. He let my brother and I in on the secret. I was so excited for Christmas morning to come so that I could enjoy Mom's enjoyment of the gift.The gift was a hit, thank goodness. This was a big deal because Dad had been known to have a few Gift Fails. Hard to say whether he was wanting in the gift-giving area, or my mom was hard to buy for. Probably a combination of both. Mom used to tell the story of the time early in their marriage when Dad bought her a bejeweled can opener. I could elaborate on that story, but really, 'bejeweled can opener' pretty much says it all.

So my Christmas Ove gift to you is a few tips on how to up your gift-giving game next year. BTW it's not about how much you spend - it's what you spend it on. A careful investment of time and consideration of what to buy will pay off.

Be clear who the gift is for. Remember that Simpsons episode where Homer bought Marge a bowling ball complete with 'Homer' etched onto it? Many Gift Fails are a result of the giver mistakenly choosing something they themselves would like to receive. So when you see that cool faux alligator red patent leather combination phone case/wallet clutch on sale in November, just ask yourself: is Dad really into red patent leather?

Avoid chore gifting. Chore gifts are gifts that would mostly be applied to tasks that might be considered chores by the person receiving the gifts. Gents, listen carefully here: vacuums clearly fall into this category. I don't care how many nails and quarters and acorns the Orca Elite sucks up on the cool infomercial. Do. Not. Buy. Her. A. Vacuum. Bejeweled toilet scrubbers and bejeweled can openers are also a no-no.

It's a wrap. Some people are just difficult to buy for. In such cases, quality wrapping can cover a multitude of gifting sins. And you don't have to be an origami expert to get this right. A cute gift bag accented with some NEW coordinating color tissue paper (use plain white paper as a last resort; resist the urge to recycle last year's tissue paper; do NOT use toilet paper as a substitute, no matter how tempting at 3am Christmas morning). These cost little and go a long way toward dressing up a questionable offering. If you can't quite get the gift right, you can at least nail the presentation!

Details. It's okay to half-ass the gift to the paper boy. But you should know enough details about the significant people in your life to show you know the details when you buy them gifts. Some examples of how some gift ideas can seem like slam-dunks, but without knowing the details, can go horribly wrong:

-Food/beverage.You found a great deal on a cute festive coffee sampler basket. Do they even drink coffee? Dessert gifts abound during the holidays. Is your giftee a fitness freak? Diabetic? Allergic? Crunchy or sticky items - do you really want to be the guy responsible for her $1500 crown?

-Jewelry. Very tricky to buy for the ladies in your life. Rings are problematic in that they may accidentally convey an unintended message of commitment. Also they come in sizes, very hard to determine without giving away the surprise. How about non-sized items like earrings or necklaces? Fine, but semi-precious stones are often associated with a specific birthday month. Do you know her stone? Her birthday?? Pierced or clip-on earrings? Prefer gold or silver? Bracelets, you say? Some bracelets come in sizes. Is she a 7-inch or an 8-inch? Watches? Just because she doesn't wear a watch doesn't mean she needs or wants a watch. We could go on forever here. If you are determined to buy jewelry for a female, consider asking her friends or relatives what she prefers, or observe carefully over a couple of weeks to see what she wears.

-Hats. Ladies, be aware men's hats sometimes come in sizes other than 'one size fits all'. Do you have a clue what size his head is? I know, it probably varies depending on how great a week he is having.

-Books. If it's on the New York Times bestseller list, must be a lock, right? Maybe. Fiction or non-fiction? When is the last time you saw them reading a book?

-Clothing. Buying fitted clothing for women should be avoided at all costs unless you are very, very certain of their size. Too large? You may think you are in the clear here because they will be flattered they are just so dang fit and trim, the item is too big. But no. You are now the knucklehead who has no clue what size they are. Too small? Whoa, buddy, you do not even want to go there. Stick with scarves (lame), gloves (lamer), or socks (lamest) if you must buy an item of clothing.

Plan ahead. As you can see, quality gifting can take time. Don't pull a Serena Williams and 'forget'

Christmas is on December 25th this year. You have 364 days to come up with something. Learn from the Gifting Master and make a list. Check it twice. By about August you would be looking for gift opportunities everywhere. You don't have to buy it then, but at least start looking for options. If you are not a great planner, Amazon Prime free two-day shipping is your BFF. Join now.

Cash out. By now you may be tempted to throw in the towel and give cash. As my mother says, 'it's always the right color'. Cash gifts appear to be making a resurgence after being beaten into submission by the gift card and online buying trends of the past several years. I am a fan of cash, but be careful about giving it to those closest to you. Rule of thumb: do not give cash to anyone who would be insulted by you leaving it for them on the nightstand.

Gifting handicaps. As if all this gifting strategy weren't complicated enough, I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention gifting handicaps. Exactly the same as golf. Handicaps exist to even out the playing field. Gifting handicaps are why your wife may squeal with delight over the tatty construction paper poinsettia your son made for her in kindergarten, yet give a subtle but noticeable stink-eye to the $50 iTunes gift card you so cleverly stashed (unwrapped) in her Christmas stocking. He gets extra points because 1) he's cute and 2) he has no money of his own, yet he still spent time and effort doing his best to provide a gift. You get the stink-eye because 1) you've been giving her the same gift every year since iTunes was a thing; 2) you spent approximately 3.2 seconds on this impulse purchase while standing in line at the Piggly Wiggly buying yourself some Natty Lite, Cheese Wiz, and Preparation H. So gifting is not a straight-up proposition. You will be competing with adorable 5-year-olds. Gird your loins.

Keep the receipt. Sometimes despite all your best efforts, your gift just may not be the cat's pajamas. Literally. They sell cat pajamas now. Anyway - be a considerate giver and accept this possibility. Give things that can be easily exchanged or returned. Most stores provide a gift receipt option. Stick it in a small envelope and include it in the gift bag or box. They may never use it, but your giftee will appreciate the thought.

It can be exhausting, but it's worth it to improve your gifting skills. This is one of the best-kept secrets of Christmas: that giving can be so much better than receiving, if you do it right. Knowing this makes watching clips of those awful annual Black Friday Wal-Mart mob scenes slightly more palatable. One can only hope the guy at the bottom of the pile with the last Xbox in the store is taking a pounding to bring home a great gift for his kid, not just gifting himself.

Now that you are armed with quality gifting advice, next year you can avoid Black Friday altogether and look forward to basking in the gift-giving afterglow of Christmas Ove.

This post was originally published in December 2013.

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In the past, I posted a series of short posts devoted to some of my favorite Christmas songs. I was poised to repeat that concept when two things happened: 1) I found out Christmas carols were banned for a time in Cromwellian England (mid-1600s) as 'pagan and sinful'; and 2) my friend Dan sent me a link to a Christmas song. After watching/listening, I wasn't sure if it was his idea of a joke, or he really liked it. So instead of another tired list of favorites, here's my list of songs I would ban if I were Oliver Cromwell. Shamelessly cherry-picked from many other 'worst' lists - The Worst of the Worst!

The criteria: I tried very hard to ignore the video and focus on the musical skills or lack thereof. Several songs on many 'worst' lists are not so bad if you don't have to watch the asinine video. There is one exception where the video just could not be ignored - see if you can guess which one. These are not songs I simply dislike. They are here because they represent a musical fail of epic proportions.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Joseph Spence

This video introduces Mr. Spence as a Bahamian Thelonious Monk. I am thinking more a Satan's spawn of Bob Dylan and Tommy Chong. Yes I know that is biologically improbable, but you get my drift. Mr. Spence: who on earth is 'Sandy Parr'? And why should we be concerned about his impending visit??

Have a Cheeky Christmas, The Cheeky Girls

I'm gonna just go ahead and free associate here: stripper poles butt cheeks hip thrusts freaked-out reindeer scrawny mail order bride kreesmas porn

I'll Be Home For Christmas, Jillian Hall

Sweet mother of pearl. This is one of those that you're not sure if she is spoofing herself, or she really is just that terrible and no one has the courage to clue her in.

O Holy Night, Steve Mauldin

Folks, if you are planning on your local church Christmas pageant as the first step toward winning American Idol, do us all a favor and PLEASE do not choose the Star Spangled Banner of Christmas songs!!

Jingle Bells, Ori Dagan

Going with Occam's Razor theory (the simplest explanation is probably the correct one): I think he was high.

Worst Christmas Song Ever, Kevin Mcleod

If you search the above song title on YouTube, you will get beaucoup hits. There are many pretenders. This one is the real deal.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus rap, names withheld to protect the guilty

Reprehensible and disturbing on many levels. NSFW. Ashamed I am even listing it, but it makes these others look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir by comparison. Couldn't even get Blogger to post it properly!!

I had some problems with the audio on my laptop while researching this post. Originally thought it was old, overloaded, and overheating (kinda like me!!), but after listening to this mess, I think it was my laptop's version of dry heaves. When I started this project I thought it would be fun. But I honestly have to stop now. It is exhausting and depressing sorting through all the garbage that is out there. Kinda makes Mariah's Song That Shall Not Be Named look pretty good, doesn't it?

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I was born and raised in Texas. You might find some argument about whether Texas is South or West or some combination. But when it comes to southern expressions, Texas definitely qualifies as South.

I grew up listening to many of these expressions issue forth from friends and relatives. I thought nothing of it, until I once politely refused a second helping at a non-Southern soiree because I was 'full as a tick'. Jaws dropped. Eyes bulged. It was at that moment I realized I was, in fact, bilingual.

The great thing about learning to speak and understand southern expressions is that you don't have to learn a new language. You just have to rearrange some words from the language you already know.

Some southern expressions have gained widespread familiarity, like y'all (all of you, or maybe just you) and fixin' to (about to) and bless your heart (you're a moron).  But there are many, many others. Most require some translation. Here are a few of my favorites.

Let's do the dogs first:

that dog won't hunt - whatever you just proposed or suggested has fatal flaws in its logic

I've got no dog in that fight - I really don't care what the outcome is

don't get the big dog off the porch - leave well enough alone; sometimes rephrased in other parts of the country as 'don't poke the bear'

Okay, done with the dogs.

all hat no cattle - full of bluster; someone who is too full of themselves for no apparent reason

I don't know whether I'm washin' or hangin' - one of my mom's phrases to indicate she's crazy busy

colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra - one of my dad's jewels. Sometimes you hear the first part by itself, but Dad being Dad, he always likes to add the bit about the bra.

Speaking of cold: butter wouldn't melt in her mouth - she is a cold person; shorthand for bi***

Feeling twitchy? You may be nervous as a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory or a one legged man at a butt kickin' contest

not my first rodeo - both my husband and I are overly fond of this one. It just means you've done whatever it is you're doing before. Often used in a snippy tone in response to someone who may express doubts at your ability to perform the task at hand.

fish or cut bait - make up your mind; occasionally more crudely expressed as sh** or get off the pot

happy as a pig in sh** - believe it or not, I've probably heard this said about newlyweds more than I care to remember. Some people substitute 'mud' in polite society, but sh** is what they really mean.


that and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee - whatever this refers to is worth zero zip nada

knee high to a grasshopper - Southerners hear this phrase about eight thousand times from older relatives when attending a family reunion or any time they haven't seen you since you were a kid.

It says something about southern culture that there are so many expressions for someone who is, shall we say, somewhat low in the IQ department:

not the brightest bulb
not the sharpest knife in the drawer
ain't got the sense God gave a goose
doesn't know enough to come in out of the rain
dumb as a carrot

In addition to the 'full as a tick' fiasco, I probably get the second highest number of quizzical looks when I use a Southernism to describe something that is diagonally across from something (kitty corner) or in disarray (cattywompus).

When I was a teenager, my dad sometimes said I would argue with a fence post. I thought it was a compliment.

If you're traveling with a Southerner and they say their back teeth are floating, you best pull over at first opportunity so they can use the facilities.

I get that he needs to look this way for a role, but yikes.

My cousin Nan contributed this one. Unfortunately I find myself using it frequently. For example, when watching the recent Academy Awards and trading red carpet attire critiques with my daughter via text, I told her Casey Affleck looked like Fido's tail.

If my brother and I happen to be out and about and observe the person walking ahead of us who is, shall we say, overly endowed in the posterior, my brother will inevitably whisper to me that her rear end looks like two beavers fightin' under a bear rug. And inevitably I will laugh my head off.


If you're like me and trying to embrace the new minimalist fad and get rid of too much stuff, here's another one of my brother's jewels that might help the next time you are tempted to buy more stuff: I need that like a hen needs a flag.

Photo by Ruth Hartnup on Flickr

My strategy when learning a new language is to pick one or two phrases that might fit in with your lifestyle and try them out, gingerly at first, until you get the hang of it. Maybe tell your loved one their new outfit is fine as frog's hair. Or tell your kids to quit playin' possum and get up before they're late to school. And if I might offer a suggestion: when dining out with non-Southern friends, don't mention ticks at the dinner table.

This post originally appeared as part of my participation in the 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge.

Catching up on cleaning out my emails recently, and something happened that I often hope for but rarely experience: finding something outstanding buried among the detritus of newsletters and sales pitches I really need to unsub from. It was a link to a TED Talk by Adam Grant in which he discussed, among many other fabulous things, the science behind adding just the right touch of procrastination to the creative process.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about the TED Talk for you because I really encourage you to take about 16 minutes and watch the whole thing. But to the point of procrastinating: Grant quotes Aaron Sorkin, the successful creative mind behind many hits including two of my favorites, The West Wing and Moneyball:

Grant, who is an organizational psychologist, shared some statistics indicating that people who procrastinate just the right amount (just a little bit), at just the right time (after the project has begun, not before), often have better results with their end product than people who don't. Because SCIENCE.

Now that we have permission from the creativity experts to goof off (like we weren't gonna goof off today anyway *snort*), I can feel A-OK about my procrastination activity of choice: cleaning AKA ProcrastiCleaning. I know some of you are out there shaking your head, wondering why in the name of all that is holy, if I now have permission to goof off, I'm wasting precious goof-off time on such a mundane activity.

I wish I had an answer. I don't even LIKE to clean. I mean, I'm not a hoarder or anything, but at my house on any given day, one might find a layer of dust or a carpet that needs vacuuming if one were to look especially carefully. I'll clean, but I don't especially enjoy the experience. Unless there's writing to be done. The closer the deadline, the better I like it. Then I'll clean like a banshee. And I don't mean dusting and vacuuming. We're talking major cleaning jobs, like detailing the car. Or taking a toothbrush to the knots in the heart pine flooring to get every bit of Sheetrock dust from a recent project out of there. Or possibly disassemble-the-plumbing-under-the-bathroom-double-vanity-to-scrape-out-the-mysterious-crud-inside-the pipes-under-my-husband's-sink (but not mine!) cleaning. Not that I would ever do that. In any case, ProcrastiCleaning is not for the faint of heart (or knee, or back).

Apparently, I'm not alone. I can tell by the number of 'Amen, sistah!' responses on social media any time the subject comes up. And those are just from the ProcrastiCleaners who are loud and proud and out of the cleaning closet. For each of them, I'm sure there are twenty more writers out there, still pretending they are actually straight-up cleaning rather than avoiding a deadline. Never mind they just spent forty minutes learning how to use the attachments on the vacuum so they can Hoover the funnel cloud of dust bunnies out from under the guest room dresser. BTW Rookie Mistake: dead giveaway that you're ProcrastiCleaning if you're considering learning how to use the attachments on the vacuum.

I know cleaning to avoid writing is weird (if not bordering on counter-productive). I can't help it. But I'm not about to give it up. I have my best ideas while doing mindless non-writing-related tasks. And they're not limited to cleaning. Once I almost punctured my trachea in my haste to write down a plot twist idea I got while brushing my teeth.

This month I'm trying to salvage the brain dump also known as last November's NaNoWriMo upchuck. Now that the plumbing project is done, I need to go fire up the hub's power washer. Thank goodness for pollen season, or I'd have no prayer of meeting my deadline.

This post originally appeared as part of the 2016 A to Z Blog Challenge.