Nerd shoutout: Help me name this kitten!

So, I’ve got a tiny, little, cuddly problem. Maybe you can help.



In my latest fit of asserting my independence, I decided to adopt this furry goofball. She can be a handful sometimes – literally – but even as I type this, she is showing her adorable side, curled up on my lap and purring away (and chewing on my thumb).

I’ve been calling her “Kid,” as in “Hey Kid, stop that,” or “Remove your claws from my ankle, Kid.” Folks in the office tell me this is not acceptable, that I must give her a real name. Well, I’m having a hard time coming up with one.

Being a self-proclaimed nerd, I thought it best to choose a nerdy name for her – some obscure reference to a character in a comic, cartoon, movie or video game, perhaps. I’ve come up with a few ideas, but each one has its pros and cons. Here’s where you come in: What’s a great, nerdy name for a cat?

My ideas so far:

Who wouldn't want a mogwai for a pet – despite the risk of a gremlin outbreak?

Gizmo, after the cute little Mogwai in “Gremlins.”

Pros: Just like Gizmo, she’s got massive ears and eyes. She also makes all sorts of squeaky noises, though I have yet to hear her enunciate anything like “uh oh” in her little kitty voice.

Cons: She might grow into those adorably oversized cranial features. Plus, I’ve gotten her wet and fed her after midnight, and she has yet to spawn any evil gremlins.


Oh Marceline, why are you so mean?

Marceline, as in Marceline the Vampire Queen, of “Adventure Time” fame.

Pros: Sometimes she’s nice, other times she can be kind of mean. At heart, though, she’s a good person, probably. Plus, she bites.

Cons: Don’t ask me why, but I’m not a big fan of giving people names to pets. Also, pet names should not have more than two syllables. Otherwise, by the time you’re done shouting at the pet, it will already have stopped doing whatever it was that triggered the shouting.


I doubt the kitten would be able to balance on a broom like Jiji.

Jiji, the titular witch’s black cat in Studio Ghibli’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service.”

Pros: Jiji’s kind of a rascal, not unlike this kitten. Also, the kitten has a high-pitched voice like his. (In the Japanese version, at least – the Disney version has Phil Hartman voicing the cat, but we don’t talk about that.)

Cons: Jiji’s a male cat, though his voice actor (in the original Japanese) is female. Also, he’s a black cat. This kitten has a tiger-like fur design with white paws.


How about you? Any great, nerdy cat name ideas? I’m a fan of cats in literary media, from Puss in Boots to Reynard’s Tibert to Pangur Bán of the Gaelic poem. but for now at least, I think Kid will do.

Rave on!

Head to your friendly neighborhood record store — it’s release day for “Rave On Buddy Holly.”

This disc is a tribute album to the late great Texas rock ‘n’ roller, packed with great covers from unlikely coverers. Florence and the Machine perform “Not Fade Away,” The Black Keys do “Dearest,” She & Him croon “Oh Boy.”

It’s infectious. The artists make ’50s rock sound fresh and new but still preserve Holly’s legacy. I’m including some YouTube videos of songs from the album so you can see what I mean.

First up is Cee Lo Green’s cover of “You’re So Square (I Don’t Care).” You will sing it all day.

Next is the Black Keys with “Dearest.”

Last, Florence and the Machine (a group I usually HATE) doing “Not Fade Away.”

If you’re going to buy one new album for summer barbecues, get this one. I have a feeling it won’t get much better.


Beware Mr. Popper's power — and the penguins' flight

A couple of weeks ago, in a Nerd Living blog about the movies we’ve been looking forward to seeing this summer, I extolled the virtues of the Green Lantern movie, which had not yet been released.

Umm, it’s possible I overstated my case.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. My oldest kid and I went to the matinee one Saturday, and by then my expectations were pretty low. It has green flashy stuff, cool glimpses of the Green Lantern Corps — and, unfortunately, a plot that’s all over the map.

Green Lantern is outshone by all things, a different movie that I saw on Friday evening — Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Or is it a different movie at all? Let’s compare:

A missing father: As a boy, Hal Jordan witnesses his father, a test pilot, die horrifically as his plane catches fire and explodes. Tom Popper Jr. grows up knowing his own father mostly as a voice on the wireless radio as Tom Popper Sr. travels the globe in search of adventure.

A life unfulfilled: Hal Jordan has spent his life running from responsibility. He’s good at his job — if you don’t count crashing multi-million dollar test jets, and he can’t seem to maintain a romantic relationship, not even with the beautiful, smart, talented Carol Ferris. Mr. Popper is always running to responsibility, at least of the work variety, and thus misses important anniversaries, birthdays, soccer games, dance recitals and so on. He can’t maintain a romantic relationship with his wife, the smart, beautiful, talented, ex-Mrs. Popper.

An unexpected gift: Hal Jordan receives his powerful lantern and ring from the dying alien Abin Sur. Naturally, Jordan doesn’t know why the ring has chosen him or how to use it. Tom Popper receives his gift in his father’s last will and testament, and it’s delivered to him in a box. It’s a penguin. That’s swiftly followed by another wooden crate with several more penguins. Mr. Popper doesn’t know what to do until he discovers the power of shuffle ball step, shuffle ball lunge, step ball change, step ball change.

Strange modern civilization bathed in sparkling light: In Green Lantern, it’s the planet Oa. In Mr. Popper, it’s New York City.

Gross things will happen: In Green Lantern, the troubled scientist Hector Hammond is exposed to an alien substance, gains new powers and grows an incredibly large, disgusting head. Also, he starts to look more sweaty. This is played for horror. In Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the gross-out factor is penguin guano. This is played for laughs.

Hitting our hero in sensitive places, repeatedly: In Green Lantern, it’s Kilowog, the drill sergeant of the Green Lantern Corps. In Mr. Popper, it’s a soccer ball.

Ancient and wise, and refusing to panic: In Green Lantern, it’s the little blue Guardians of the Universe. In Mr. Popper, it’s Angela Lansbury.

Flying high in the friendly skies: Without spoiling the endings, let’s just say Green Lantern makes airplanes out of the green energy in his ring to do something important — and Captain, the flightless penguin, uses a kite to do something very important.

Embracing destiny: The ring, the Guardians of the Universe and the fact that Earth seems doomed to certain annihilation if he doesn’t act fast all motivate Hal Jordan to man up and seize the day. Six penguins seize Mr. Popper’s heart and make him embrace his family.



Happy birthday, you wretched but lovable half-human, half-bat creature!

Happy birthday, Bat Boy! The Weekly World News (“The World’s Only Reliable News”) first reported your existence on June 23, 1992.

You were first found in a cave near Seneca Rocks. So that makes you one of us — a true West Virginian — in spite of (or because of!) your sharp teeth, ears that work like radar, the strength of an ape and your daily consumption of insects equal to your weight.

Since then, you’ve been captured by government agents, held in a top secret facility, endorsed Al Gore for president and joined the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In that last instance, you summed up the views of many Americans when you told military recruiters succinctly, “Bad man … lemme get him … bite him up.”

Oh! And you also appeared off-Broadway in the appropriately named “Bat Boy: The Musical,” set in the fictitious town of Hope Falls, West Virginia.

You’re a true West Virginia hero. We hope you’re doing well, and may you have a heaping plate of insects to celebrate!

Go, Bat Boy
It’s your birthday
We gon’ party like it’s your birthday


Help me, Funnel Cakers, you're my only hope….


So I’ve been the target of a great deal of scorn over the past 34 hours regarding something I posted on Facebook.  No, it wasn’t some political debate I inspired involving some highly controversial, hot button issue argued vociferously in the halls of places where smart people hang out. It’s over something I thought — at the time — was a simple, random, innocuous admission:

Random Fact: In my 29 years, I have never eaten a Funnel Cake.

Yes, my friend, I am a 29-year-old Funnel Cake virgin. Never before has this deep fried, sugary powdered concoction ever touched my lips.

And the reaction by my socially networked friends to said admission — made while I was roaming the aisles of the Ravenswood Foodfair as I was waiting on my mother to figure out what we were making for Father’s Day dinner — was something I never could have expected.

Here’s a sampling:

“What are you, Al Qaeda?”

“Un-American I say…”

“This should be illegal!”

“So Jared….the CIA called…they could use you since you’ve been living inside North Korea for the past 3 decades….Communist.”

“I’m shocked and appalled…..that’s a staple of the Black Walnut Festival — really, just shocked an appalled.”

“U r not human.”

This was magnified today at work when several of my co-workers expressed utter shock that I’ve gone 29 years absent of deep-fried goodness.

It’s not that I’ve made a conscious effort to avoid them — growing up in Jackson County, we had the annual Junior Fair, 4th of July carnival, Art & Craft fair, Ohio River Festival and Ravenswood Octoberfest — it’s just whenever I attended any of those events, I always went after the Philly Cheese Steaks or Lemonade (you know, that special carnival lemonade that’s like 68 percent sugar crystals, 10 percent lemon juice, 5 percent water and a remaining portion of an addictive substance I can only assume is crystal meth).

So now, before my friends inform federal officials informing them of the need to revoke my citizenship, I now send out a plea among fellow festival-istas —- where/when can I get a funnel cake in the greater Charleston area???  I know there are kits that you can use to make at home, but then, if I make it there, how can I be sure that I got it to that greasy fairs & festivals level of quality everyone else has apparently grown to know and love?

And beyond that, what do you think — what is it about the funnel cake that has drawn out such a reaction among those I know?  Do you have any particular memories tied to a funnel cake?  What does this deep-fried bread concoction mean to you?

And please, help me find one before I’m excommunicated from society…..

Who killed Rosie Larson? The Cylons?

If you’ve been watching “The Killing” this summer on AMC, then you know tonight’s the night we finally find out who killed Rosie Larson.

Of course, we got a pretty good idea last week, unless there’s another twist or two to come. Anyhow, it’s an exciting moment on what’s been a slow burn of a TV show — the entire season dedicated to unraveling the mystery of one girl’s murder at a very deliberate pace.

One kick I’ve gotten out of this show, though, is that the mystery might as well have taken place aboard the Battlestar Galactica. I mean… not really. These two shows are pretty different from each other, except for maybe a moodiness. It seems like it’s raining in every scene in the Seattle setting of The Killing. And it would have been raining in every scene in Battlestar Galactica, except the setting was usually in space.

And, of course, The Killing focuses intensely on the death of one person, Rosie Larson. Battlestar Galactica began when the Cylons nuked millions of humans out of existence.

Nevertheless, practically every scene of The Killing seems to have a Battlestar alum.

There’s the major role, of course, played by Michelle Forbes as Rosie’s mother, Mitchie. On Battlestar, Forbes was Admiral Helena Cain, a murderer in her own self because of that time she shot her first officer in the head for his reluctance to obey an order.

Also on The Killing is an actor named Callum Keith Rennie. He played Rick Felder, Detective Sarah Linden’s fiance. She’s supposed to be relocating to Sonoma, Calif., to be with him. Except when Rosie is killed and Linden draws the case, she can’t let go enough to get on that flight.

I kept looking at Rennie and thinking, “I know him from somewhere…” And then one night I realized, “Oh! He’s Leoben!”

Leoben was a Cylon on Battlestar Galactica — the one who comes as a messenger to Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, plays some pretty tricky mindgames, gets tossed out an airlock into the dark vacuum of space, is resurrected, returns to hold Starbuck hostage, plays even more mind games, gets killed by Starbuck at least five more times only to resurrect over and over and eventually returns to side with the humans and help Starbuck find her destiny.

Wshew! He was both creepy and sympathetic on that show. In comparison, Detective Linden’s relationship with Rick Felder is a whole lot less complicated.

That was pleasing enough until last week when Detective Linden’s ex-husband showed up. This guy apparently hadn’t had a relationship with Linden or her son for about a decade and suddenly appeared in the middle of Linden’s stress over the Rosie Larson murder to re-establish contact with his son.

The ex appears in Detective Linden’s office, and at first they don’t show him so you just hear him talking. And I’m thinking, “Helo!”

So, that’s who it was — Tahmoh Penikett, who played Viper pilot Karl “Helo” Agathon on Battlestar. On that show, rather than being an absent father, Penikett was the very involved husband of the Cylon named Athena and the father of the human-Cylon hybrid Hera, which wasn’t really a very easy position to be in, all things considered.

I’m not sure what all these guys are doing on this show, but I like it.

Bring on Bill Adama for next season! Maybe he can be the crusty but caring police captain.

Ask Me About My Wiener

Our best side.

I am here to introduce you to the wonderful world of wiener dogs.

As a member of a family that has owned the beautiful breed formally known as the Dachshund, I will tell you from the start that I have born witness to more cute conniption fits than any normal person should be put through. This is the nature of the doxie, and thus the reason why we keep so many spare paper towel rolls and a bottle of carpet cleaner around in case our little bundle of energy gets too excited all over the floor or on someone’s lap.

This has been my plight for the last two years. Every time I visit my home of Tucker County the first thing I’m confronted with is the fear of being urinated on by the small animal we’ve come to know as Gracie Mae as I pull into my driveway.

And on Saturday, I was surrounded by 80 to 100 of these little buggers at the fifth annual West Side Wiener Dog Race.

No single area should be permitted to have that much adorable activity happening all at the same time. You should have seen it, every time you turned around another bout of nose-t0-snout “hello, how are you?” was going on in this cornucopia of wienerdum. There were wieners there of all shapes, sizes, colors, and mixes. One by the name of Buddy still holds a particularly special place in my heart as the fattest wiener I have ever encountered at 12 years old and so wide his belly dragged the ground as his little legs carried him over the finish line.

While they dominated the attention of the day, Doxies weren’t the only pups on hand on Saturday. Someone managed to sneak in a huge Greyhound in one corner and I’m pretty sure I saw what could have been a hairless rat in another. Or maybe that was a Chihuahua… Either way, most of the wiener dogs were having none of it as though to say “Hey, this is my day, pal. Go back to Mexico or where ever it is that you came from.”

It was indeed a day for wieners on parade. After the fetch competition it was time for us owners to do something all wieners have come to hate: Dress them up in ridiculous outfits. Yes, it was time for the costume parade. I was a bit worried Gracie might throw one of her infamous temper tantrums as I pulled the little cowgirl dress over her sleek coat, but that concern flew out the window when I realized as soon as we put any sort of clothing on her she freezes in an intense display of total and complete misanthropy. But hey, at least we didn’t follow through with our original plan to dress her up as the West Side’s own Representative Weiner complete with a tiny cell phone and gray jockey shorts.

No, someone else took care of that duty for us. Disgraced Weiners aside, there was also a wiener Slash and another wiener that had a large display of black plumage coming from its rear end. A Feather Wiener, if you will. We also bore witness to her highness the Princess Beatrice Wiener complete with the now famous pink toilet seat hat she wore to the royal wedding. It was later found that the princess was a boy wiener named Sampson. I felt rather cheated there for a minute, but that was before it was announced that Gracie was chosen as the best overall female wiener in the costume contest. It was a great day for the Grace monster in her little red and blue cowgirl dress that was removed as soon as the pictures were taken and our $25 prize was secured.

Her Highness Princess Beatrice Wiener of Charleston

Let the record show that I will never wear a cowboy hat again after Saturday. Ever.

After her big win, Gracie was a bit pooped, so we took her to cool down in front of a large fan that was running. The fan happened to be nearby the booth where there were a few dogs and cats up for adoption. I’ve been fiending to adopt a kitten for the longest time and basically had to be dragged away from a little black beauty in one of the cages. Hey, if you’ve got the time, go here to check out some of the great animals up for adoption at the Kanawha/Charleston Animal Shelter. There might not be any wieners available right now, but I know they have a friendly little guy with three legs that needs a good home.

It was then time for the big event. *Cue the Rocky theme* (Yes, they actually played this before the wieners raced.) Anyway, the heats were divided up into four divisions based on age. The seniors were up first with all the old timers that were nine or older. This was Buddy’s time to shine, but unfortunately a slimmer wiener stole the spotlight. Maybe next year, big guy.

Next we had the puppy division and then the adult division II for ages five to nine. Finally, it was time for the adult division I wieners and with a little help from my mother screaming at the other end of the race course and a purple stuffed donkey, Gracie managed to finish third in her heat. Unfortunately, it was Lex the wiener who trotted across the finish line first.

Honestly, I was just happy she scampered straight to mom. Too many wieners end their racing career nose-first in their competitors rump. It would have been nice to get the cash prize at the end of the day, but we settled for our $25. The wiener who won the adult division II named Saugy Bottom Boy gave his winnings back for charity.

His owner must be so proud of her wiener. I know I am.

A blog in the life

The greatest rock band of all time, inspiring generations of fans since 1962.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 8 years old, riding in the cab of my dad’s work truck accompanying him on errands. In the cassette player was a well-worn Beatles Greatest Hits tape. I had listened to a lot of music on days just like this with my dad–The Supremes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson. But none of them compared to what I heard coming out of the dashboard that day.

For years, I did nothing but listen to Beatles cassettes and read any book I could find. Even though I’m not artistic in any way, I made a case for all of my cassettes with carefully cut out photos of the Fab Four taped to the lid. In my grown up house, this has evolved into having nearly all of the Beatles LPs lining my staircase.

Every time my machine spat out a cassette, I meticulously wound the reel with a pencil eraser and performed surgery on the torn tape. My parents used to tell me I made them sick of listening to the Beatles. But to me, I don’t see how this is possible. I never get tired of hearing John, Paul, George and Ringo.

My love hit a new level in 1995. For weeks, I was glued to ABC watching the Beatles Anthology. Here, right in my own living room, I got to relive the amazing body of work I wasn’t alive to see the first time. I imagined myself living through Beatlemania.

Sadly, I was never alive at the same time as all four Beatles. There was never the possibility of a full-on reunion in my lifetime. The Anthology was the closest we ever came. With the release of John’s tracks, Free as a Bird and Real Love, we heard the first new Beatles tunes in nearly 30 years.

But I have gotten to see one-fourth of the Beatles in person.

Last year, my husband made a lifelong dream come true when we saw Paul McCartney’s Coming Up Tour. We arrived several hours early in hopes of seeing Sir Paul arrive for sound check. We waited in 90 degree heat for 4 hours only to discover we were waiting in the wrong spot. The show was still the best I’ve ever attended. Seeing an actual Beatle take the stage in front of me brought tears to my eyes. We actually got to hear Paul sing Yesterday, Hey Jude and The Long and Winding Road. It was surreal and unforgettable.

Me waiting in hopes of catching Paul leaving the arena. Sadly, I missed him 🙁

The best thing about attending Paul’s show was seeing how vast his fan base truly is. There were people of every race and nearly every age. Generations of families attended and enjoyed the show, reliving the moment they first fell in love with a Beatle.

Paul played a special show at the Apollo back in December to mark Sirius XM’s 20 millionth subscriber. I listened to online radio for days on end waiting to hear them play Band on the Run in hopes of winning tickets to the exclusive show. In the end, I didn’t win, but it was worth the try.

Paul, who turns 69 today (Happy Birthday Sir Paul!!!), is currently embarking on a brand new summer tour playing notable ballparks in the U.S. It kicks off July 15 at Yankee Stadium.

My husband bought us tickets for Paul’s show in Cincinnati this August at Great American Ballpark. It’s our anniversary gift, which coincidentally is the wood anniversary. What better way to celebrate than enjoying a night of listening to a Hofner Bass! And we’re on the field which will be the closest I’ve ever been to a Beatle.

I’m sure my inner Beatlemanic will be out in full force. I fully intended on making a sign on the astronomical chance Paul will see it during the show and bring me up on stage. A fan can dream, right.

But we do crazy things for love.

And the Oscar goes to … Judy Moody!

So far this year I have seen “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” “Thor,” “Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer” and “X-Men: First Class” at the local movie theater, which means I’m already, totally way ahead in my prep to cast my “Best Picture” vote.

These movies — excellent all — actually have a lot in common:


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is about a kid named Greg who has to  cope with middle school and his parents’ misguided attempts to make him and his big brother, Rodrick, bond. At one point, when their parents are out of town, Rodrick locks Greg and is goofy friend Rowley in the basement. Eventually, Greg and Rowley escape banishment and join the party, where they are a hit. Except… there’s a big mess so Greg and Rodrick bond over cleaning it up in record time and then keeping the secret as long as they can.



Thor is about a god named the Mighty Thor, a guy with not wimpy muscles and excellent golden locks who has to cope with his father Odin’s well-intentioned attempts to teach him humility by banishing him to the basement, also known as Earth. While Thor is there, he misses all the big parties with huge plates of meat and tankards of mead. Plus he misses all of his friends. But makes new friends! Especially Natalie Portman, if you know what I’m sayin’. Once he’s back at home, Thor has to clean up the mess made by his brother, Loki, the Norse god of mischief. Those guys really never bond.


Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is about Judy Moody, a double RARE, way-not-boring third-grader with excellent-but-messy red locks who sets out to have the most thrilling summer of her life. Her friends go off to even more exciting places, though, like Circus Camp or Borneo. Oh, plus HER parents are going out of town so that leaves Judy to cope with a summer with her Aunt Opal, who is played by Heather Graham, if you know what I’m sayin’, although Judy does not handle this situation the way Thor likely would. Oh, and Judy has to deal with her little brother Stink and his obsession with Bigfoot.


X-Men: First Class is about a brilliant young academic, Charles Xavier, and the man he comes to know like a brother, Erik Lensherr. The trouble is, Erik spent his youth in a Nazi concentration camp, saw his mother shot right in front of his eyes and is out for nothing short of revenge. Oh, yeah, and they both have mutant powers. Charles has the ability to read minds and Erik has the power to control metal, so he takes the name Magneto. They spend their summer putting together a class of young mutants — who all feel like wimpy kids because they are so different from everybody else — to take on a big bad guy named Kevin Bacon. Eventually, Charles Xavier has no hair at all.


Of course, there are a lot of cool movies still to come, which means there’s really no reason to have a bummer summer. I bet the main characters in many upcoming movies have interesting hair, either do or don’t get along with siblings, are either separated from their friends or make new friends and either do or don’t feel like they fit in.

What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far this year?