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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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My Favorite Superbowl Commercial–Already!

I haven’t even seen all of them yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet that this Superbowl commercial will be my favorite. Watch below and see if you feel the same way!
–Mary Fran

 
 

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What Goes Around Comes Around

By: Mary Fran Bontempo
IMG_7335Ear wax remover
Snoring nasal strips
Dental filling wax

Believe it or not, the above shopping list is not mine. Nor is it my husband’s.

I’m delighted to report that the items listed above are those of my not-quite-yet thirty-year-old son. Hahahahaha!

David admitted to purchasing the items while bemoaning the fact that he had, indeed, finally morphed into an old man, or more tellingly, his parents–something I’d told him was not only not far off, but inevitable.

It may be small-minded of me to gloat, but this kid, in particular, kind of deserves it. He was, um, a challenge growing up, something he’d readily admit to. And while I’m thrilled at the way he finally turned out, I’m also not above experiencing some small satisfaction when he has any moment at all that will allow me to say, “I told you so,” even if I say it quietly under my breath.

No one wants to think they’ll turn out to be their parents. I still bristle whenever my mother smirks and says, “You’re turning into your mother….” I think it actually makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Yet, I take perverse delight in saying it to my own daughters.

The truth is, they aren’t me, any more than I am my mother. Nor is David his father. But we do all share some common traits…and expressions and mannerisms…that link us together.

It’s maddening to them, and to me, when it’s about me and my mom, but maybe it’s also not such a bad thing. When you see your kids doing and saying things you do (provided we aren’t talking about a toddler who has learned from mommy how to say the word, “Sh*t!” when she drops something–not that that’s ever happened to me), it’s actually gratifying. Kind of a sign that maybe you didn’t completely screw them up after all. And when they admit that they’re voluntarily taking things off your plate of idiosyncrasies, well, that’s actually kind of cool.

So I’ll continue to deny that I’m becoming my mom, continue to irritate my daughters with a suggestion of the same, continue to snicker at my son’s metamorphosis–and be supremely grateful for it all.

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Comcast–The Tenth Circle of Hell

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Well, I ran this column a while ago, but after my most recent adventures with Comcast, five phone calls and one visit to the store today still with no resolution, I decided to run it again. The circumstances today are a bit different, but the result is the same–Aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! Feel free to pass on the rant.

To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

hell

 

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Despite what you may recall from high school, this has nothing to do with entering the gates of Hell. Well, actually, it does, but not the Hell in Dante’s Inferno.

The Hell in Comcast.

Dante did a pretty good job, what with naming the nine circles of Hell. There’s lust, gluttony, anger, fraud, violence and treachery, among others. At its worst, the ninth circle of Hell houses Satan, encased in a block of ice, lording over the world’s evils as his gigantic wings beat slowly in a terrible rhythm.

But Dante got it wrong. Because even deeper in the recesses of Hell, in a tenth circle so terrifying that the poet couldn’t bear to venture into it, resides Comcast.

My husband and I know of this evil, because we have witnessed it firsthand, and it is the worst kind of evil. It is the evil that promises riches and knowledge and offers only frustration, confusion and madness, which it then charges you for.

Consider the following:

1.) My husband, Dave, called Comcast to confirm whether he had unlimited long distance service on one of his business phone lines. The Comcast representative on the other end of the call first put Dave on hold for fifteen minutes and then told him, “Well, I checked and we have no way of knowing that. You’ll have to wait until your bill comes in and see if you’re being charged for it.” Um, huh?

2.) Despite assurances via another call to Comcast that our cable and internet services were turned on at our shore home, we arrived at our house to find only limited television channels and no internet.

Dave drove to the Comcast trailers (the offices were flooded during Sandy, likely in an effort by God to remove the scourge of Comcast, but they figured out a way around the Almighty), where long lines of unhappy prisoners, I mean customers, were being serenaded by a DJ—a DJ!!!—as grinning gatekeepers to Hell with walkie-talkies herded hapless captives into trailers housing more smiling tormentors full of empty promises.

After explaining the problem, the Comcast minion told Dave that yes, indeed, we were being billed for full service, but no one took off the hold codes on the account, so were weren’t getting what we were paying for. Surprise, surprise.

3.) Assuming the issue was resolved—another trick of Comcast Hell—Dave returned home, only to find that we still weren’t getting service, at which point our son tried to resolve the situation via phone. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Forty minutes and a spike in blood pressure later, the faceless phone demon advised my son that we had to take the cable box back to Comcast, as it appeared the equipment was broken, much like Comcast’s entire customer service department.

4.) Returning to the trailers, Dave was gifted with Comcast swag as he waited in line—water, sunscreen (captives were being held outside on a blacktopped parking lot, after all) and, the crowd was breathlessly informed, soon to arrive Frisbees! Woohoo!

He picked up a new cable box, which he plugged in upon returning home. Do I even have to say it? It was broken.

5.) Eventually, the television and internet issues were resolved. Until they weren’t. This past weekend, we returned to find that we couldn’t get on the internet. Actually, some of us could, but other devices were getting some weird “Authenticate your service” screens. Which surprised the Comcast denizens, as no one had ever heard of that page before.

Well, maybe they had, but I was on the phone with a Comcast representative from India, and I couldn’t understand anything he was saying. Nothing against India, and I’m not saying they are part of the tenth circle, but when you can’t understand what someone is telling you to do to solve a problem, what’s the point? And while we’re at it, why do I have to do anything? Isn’t that what I pay Comcast for?

I understand why Dante couldn’t venture further to warn all of the tenth circle. It’s a scary place. And I haven’t seen him in person, but I understand that the guy who lords over it all has horns, a pitchfork, a nasty grin and a giant salary. Something like $29 million dollars a year. I also think his initials are B.R., but that’s just a guess.

What I do know is that he’s way more frightening than Satan and his minions far more evil. So should you have to deal with Comcast any time soon, I’ll pray for you.

But I’m telling you right now, it’s hopeless.

What are your experiences in the tenth circle of Hell? Click “comments” below and share!

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Better Than I Thought

By: Chrysa Smith

Chopped_001

You may or may not be a foodie. Although I suspect, you do love your late night quality chocolate, don’t you?

Well, while I like to consider myself one, I’ve never really known what the true definition was—formally. You know I like to cook, love to eat and am fascinated when walking around a cooking store. I’ve interviewed top chefs, try lots of new restaurants and watch the food shows. And the later was when I realized, that I might be better than I thought.

At cooking, that is. Yes, there surely are psychological challenges when it comes to confidence, no doubt. But I’m speaking specifically about food. Pure, unadulterated food. And while I’ve only eaten at the Culinary Institute of America (never enrolled there), I think I can say that I might actually be able to throw together a decent dish, when confronted with some less than common ingredients.

If you get the Food Network, you know Chopped. It’s the cooking challenge that pins four players against each other in a cook-off consisting of appetizer, entrée and dessert. And most assuredly, is not for the faint of heart. In it, contestants are given lovely picnic baskets of unknown ingredients. Once opened, they must empty their basket, using all of the most seemingly unrelated food items together in one cohesive dish—all in 1/2 hour.

Now, there are some weird things indeed. Like olives for dessert. Eyeballs from some four-legged creature. Veggies I’ve never heard of. Different pastes or sauces. And one test of creative flair. Ramps? What the heck are they? I Googled it and found they are related to leeks and scallions. Who’d have known? This is serious stuff.

But, even though you may not have used an ingredient, or cooked with it, you begin to get a sense of what you might do with something sweet or savory. Something for an appetizer or an entrée. How to put together a dessert without chocolate. And how to ‘plate’ anything—to make it look lovely, appetizing and worth probably ten times the ingredient cost (although it is about the labor and the time and the love).

OK, it’s the little things. I get excited when I guess what to do with ingredients and the guest chef actually does it. But as with anything in life, once you do it, you get the formula. Or in this case, the recipe. You know when to sauté, when to bake, when to add some sugar, when to add some spice. It may not come naturally, but it does come from practice, practice, practice.

And I know it. My guys come home from work and wonder what’s on the chopping block tonight for dinner. And on most nights, I can say that the meal has been savored. The ingredients, while not exotic, are quite good. And I doubt I’ll be ‘chopped’ anytime soon.

What have you learned by practice rather than by study? Is it more rewarding? Have you gained confidence by trying something and succeeding?

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Crazy Ball Pit Prank in the Living Room–A Video for You!

This is hysterical–especially because it didn’t happen to me! Kudos to the young mom for not freaking out and to the dad who has made a memory his kids will NEVER forget! Happy hump day!
–Mary Fran

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Viola Gregg Liuzzo–Civil Rights Activist–A Video for You

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King and his campaign for civil rights today, take a moment to learn about Viola Gregg Liuzzo, the only white woman murdered for a cause she embraced as right. Special thanks to Brenda Krueger Huffman of Woman’s Voices Magazine for sharing the story of this remarkable woman.

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Cop Lip Syncs to to Taylor Swift–Hilarious Video for You!

This video is just hilarious. Just try not to laugh aloud! Happy Sunday!
–Mary Fran