Saturday, December 27, 2014

What kind of girl is Mrs. Santa Claus?

This is what I expected to see

Or this...

So we had some time while waiting to be seated at our favorite restaurant.
I asked Marc to look up some Mrs. Santa patterns and rental outfits so I could get some ideas.
Since Marc has a Santa costume I've been thinking I would make a matching costume so we could go together to little events and family parties.
The residents at the Bee Hive Homes loved their visit from Santa as did the kids who noticed him driving down the street.
He input Mrs. Santa Claus and a couple of pictures with old ladies in red dresses and aprons popped up.
I scrutinized them.
Hmmm. Not sure I like the aprons. Not sure I want to wear a wig. Not sure I want to look dowdy.
That's when the really interesting pictures started appearing.
Mrs. Santa Claus apparently is into spike heels and hip-high boots and short skirts and plunging necklines.
We were aghast and sucked in.
Every picture that came up was a little sexier than the last.
We had to shut it down before someone next to us noticed and before we saw something we needed to tell the bishop about.
I am really surprised and probably need to rethink my whole plan.
Not this...
I don't think the audience we're looking at entertaining is ready for a pin-up Mrs. Claus.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Malcolm Beck set the standard

I was spoiled right off when I started my professional writing career.
One of my first assignments was to cover American Fork City which meant I was to attend City Council meetings and write about what went on there.
I found meetings run with serious purpose and tightly organized so as to end each time at 9 p.m. There was even a little alarm clock that started ringing right at 9 so no one could say they didn't know it was time to stop talking.
It wasn't until later I discovered that was NOT the usual standard. (Sometimes, in meetings in Orem and Provo, you were wise to bring lunch and a pillow.)
Mayor Malcolm H Beck was the reason things went as they did.
He didn't mess around.
He worked with an agenda. He knew what was coming, what needed to happen and he had usually sorted out any potential troubles way ahead of the meeting.
But he didn't do things in secret, never had executive sessions and would always take a reporter's phone calls.
Over the years, I dealt with him on a number of levels; as the mayor, as a county commissioner, as a reliable source on just about anything.
Often, when Marc and I ran into he and his wife at the grocery store or an event, he would say, "Call me, I have a story for you!"
And he always did, something he knew about that needed addressing or the light shone upon it.
He was a treasure trove of information, candid and honest. He was very good at getting his way.
He talked to everybody.
He listened to everybody.
He often made people mad because he never beat around the bush.
He laid things right out.
Today is his funeral.
I read through his obituary Saturday and it's impressive even though I already knew most of what he's accomplished in his life.
I didn't know he was a twin.
I did know he'd been on the hospital board and involved in numerous civic organizations. I knew he'd made a difference with his life.
I knew he was a good guy, a guy who cared deeply about his family, this city and its people.
We were lucky to have him.
Marc and I consider ourselves lucky to have known him well.
We will miss him around here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Trust us

"Just leave your credit card number with us and we'll let you know when the charge goes through," said the tire store guy.
"It'll be fine."
I was a touch apprehensive because first of all, I never know if I can trust a car repair garage and secondly, their computers hadn't been responsive all morning.
I had taken my car in for squeaky brakes.
Having just paid $300 for new brakes on our SUV, I was not anxious to pay for more for our second car.
So I was relieved when the technician came back and said my brakes were OK but I had "brake dust" building up and needed it all cleaned off.
"Brake dust?"
I'd never heard of it but if the guy was a crook, he would've just sold me some new, expensive brakes, right?
I reluctantly agreed to have the dust dusted and have some fluids changed out. In exchange, I would get a "free" oil change and they would check my alignment.
About $200 and a couple of hours later, I was trying to pay my bill.
The machine refused to take my card.
"Man!" said the tire guy. "The credit card machine isn't working again!" he yelled to the others in the shop.
He tinkered with the device and searched around for some help.
The machine refused to stay on long enough to run the charge even though I swiped and swiped.
Finally I offered to go home and get a check.
"Could you?" he asked hopefully.
"Could you pay with a check?"
I explained that I would have to run home since I never carry my checkbook with me anymore.
His colleague came up and said, "Just have her leave her credit card number and we'll run it when the computers come up."
I gulped. Oh. Ok. What assurance did I have that I wouldn't end up paying thousands of dollars in charges or, at the very least, the same $200 bill several times?
"We won't do anything like that," the guy promised. "Trust us."
Why not?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Merrymaking with the Bandito

I'll be completely honest here.
Marc and I are huge Bandito fans.
We've attended the Bandito shows in the Pickleville Playhouse in Bear Lake.
We've followed him to Salt Lake for his annual Christmas shows and so when we learned he was doing an original Christmas show in Logan, we asked TJ Davis for tickets.
We arranged to be in Logan on opening night so we could see "Juanito Bandito's Christmas Carol" for ourselves.
We weren't alone. The Ellen Eccles theatre was sold out with fans of every age and size waiting for the Bandito and wearing their mustaches!
The energy was electric.
The anticipation was high.
So when the Bandito and his sidekick guitar player came out and took seats on a pair of bar stools to play "I Don't Like Christmas!" we all celebrated. As he moved into "I Don't Like Christmas, I Love It Like a Fat Kid Likes Cake!" it took off.
The Bandito barely had to make a move.
Every Spanglish word he spoke, everytime he threatened to "Chute you!," it was funny.
We all hung on every word and enthused over the Banditos rewriting of Charles Dicken's classic story.
"This has three of the scariest things," he explained, "ghosts, nightmares and vocabulary words!"
The Bandito starts out trying to make sure everyone knows he's not pregnant and cannot be pregnant and is NOT a woman. (I have no buns in the ovens and

I can prove it!" he says. "What's Pinterest?")
Then Jordan Todd Brown comes into the picture as one of Santa's underpaid and overworked elves and he is insane.
He never stops improvising or cracking up both the cast and the audience.
Even the Bandito can't help laughing as Brown shudders, contorts his body into impossible shapes, mangles his lines and takes a turn at being the young Bandito.
Whitney Folkerson as Gratilda is also crazy. She's over the top in every scene and handles a rifle with ease. Her facial expressions and body language add immeasurably to everything she does: hiding under her invisibility clock, untangling the Christmas lights and climbing back into her coffin in Christmas Future.
It's a fun ride, even though the musical numbers and Christmas raps get a touch long and the chairs in the Eccles theater are spent.
"This is an exact copy of Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol," sputters the Bandito.
Not even close but who cares?
The Bandito's Christmas Carol plays at the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake on Dec. 18-20 starting at 7:30 each evening and on Monday the 22nd as well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Social insecurity

Several months ago, looking ahead to our financial future, I decided to register for retirement benefits from the Social Security system.
I had a lot of reasons to do so, one being that I like to feel prepared and even though I will lose a little by taking retirement funds before I'm 66, it would give me peace of mind to have it in place.
I noted the instructions that told me I needed to get the application in three months ahead of when I expected payments to start.
Feeling quite proud of my attention to detail, I filled out the online form and sat back to wait.
I even got a little letter in the mail telling me my attempt to register with the system online had been a successful attempt.
But that was in October and since I hadn't heard anything since, I decided to circle back and see if all was in order.
I went online with my little "re-entry" number and tried to find my application.
I logged in all right but then I was to provide a confirmation number which I did not have. I tried my "re-entry number" but the system couldn't make it work to find my application.
I then started trying to call for help.
The system was overloaded and after numerous holds and switches, I was told to call back at a less busy time.
Then I found my application and this time, there was a little line in red that said "You may have to provide a marriage certificate. We will inform you if this is the case."
I hadn't been informed but I went back through my application and made sure there was nothing else.
I made sure the "i"s were dotted and the "t"s were crossed.
I put in another call.
This time I was allowed to make an appointment for someone to call me back.
I cancelled some plans. I sat on my phone.
When the call came, the nice lady told me that, indeed, I needed to show somebody my marriage certificate...the original, please, not a person.
That meant in Provo between the hours of 9 and 3 weekdays.
I looked at the clock. I could make it if I left now!
.....No one told me the office is open weekdays EXCEPT for Wednesdays when it closes at noon.
I fumed.
I drove home.
I drove back the next morning to join a line of folks waiting outside the doors at 8:59 a.m. When we finally got in the door, we each got to take a number and sit down to wait.
Ultimately, my number was called and it took about 10 seconds to prove I was legally wed.
Now I wait some more. My application is in cyberspace circling the planet. Once it lands, I'll join the ranks of those counting on the U.S. Government for financial security.
What can go wrong?