A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

15 March 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 - My Thoughts

Okay, I know I'm not that technologically advanced and all, but, in this day and age, you'd figure they have ways to implant certain technology (maybe hidden technology) into aircraft and big passenger conveyance-type vehicles...so, if they get lost, or crashed, or hijacked, or abducted by alien beings...we'd have some way of finding them.  At first I was thinking, "Okay...yeah...they 'lost' it...in other words, 'it crashed'.  They don't want to tell people it crashed until they get a visual verification.  They are being conscientious this time...no undue panic and hardship until proof is found.  No jumping the media gun...about time they think before they speak."
But...they can't find it at all?  No black/orange boxes chattering away?  No secret implanted code box they had installed without anyone's knowledge due to the 9/11 incidents?  No satellite surveillance enabled 24/7?  Nothing?
So, we are left pulling an "Amelia Earhart" on this one?  The technology she left the ground with, in 1937, is relatively the same as we have today?  I don't buy that.  I think someone knows something, only they aren't saying what it is.
This has conspiracy written all over it again - and, if you know anything about me...you know I love a good conspiracy theory -- but not at the expense of innocent lives.
Could be over one ocean...could be over another...could be over land...hell, we have absolutely no friggen clue.
Stolen passports, half-fueled planes, and possible suspicious pilots?  Yep, yep, and yep...it's all here, boys and girls!  Step right up!  Don't you want to know more?  Don't you want to get your money's worth?  Don't you want the suspense to last?
It's like they are just playing games with everyone.  Could be "Clue", "Risk", or even the real-world version of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" -- and we're all sitting here...waiting for someone to play their next move.  Hell, it could even be us!  We can all become detectives from our own sofas. They are calling for people to become "digital volunteers" to pore over satellite images - and to report anything we see which looks like wreckage.  Heaven help the people who field those 20 million emails an hour.
And that flip-flopping around with the conflicting reports of finding the plane and then not finding it -- and then finding it again and then...nope...we didn't find it after all...reminds me of the Donovan song, "There is a Mountain", only replace the word "mountain" with "airplane".
To me, the verse he ad-libs towards the end there (when no one is joining in) sums it up best of all -- as there is a problem.  There's also a big problem with this whole "missing" plane scenario - and if this isn't a wake-up call to everyone out there, I don't know what is.
This isn't "Hide and Seek"...we've all counted to 100 already...it's time we open up our eyes.  It's LIFE, people...and it's not a game.

28 February 2014

Day 28: And then my brain exploded

Well, it is the last day of this month-long blog-fest over at "We Work for Cheese" and I've managed to plunk out all but two days' worth of them...so go on over there and see what we've each accomplished. 
Just a little (more like a lot) about myself regarding this month-long thing.  We were all given the same "prompts" - a word or words which we would incorporate somehow or another into our daily blogs.  I know it might seem incomprehensible, but I managed not to peek at the "word-of-the-day" until just before writing each day's blog...which, I would write at about 4:00-7:00 in the morning, mostly whilst watching the Olympics (hence the strong Olympic overtone in many of them).
I, like those Olympians, loved the challenge -- I liked to see what I could come up with in roughly 30 minutes to an hour.  Most times I would look at the word(s) and then an idea would spring to mind and I'd start typing...usually it went in a completely different direction than my original thought.  I like that things like that can happen inside my very own head. 

Coming up with that first word is supposedly the hardest, and I've known people to get some serious writer's block doing so. I used to be that way when I was younger, altho from an early age I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I loved short stories and, in my opinion, Ray Bradbury was the best at doing them. 
I had an English teacher once, oh, geez...maybe in 5th or 6th grade, whose name escapes me now -- but he gave me the highest compliment you can bestow upon a would-be writer of 12 or 13-years old.  

He asked me: "Where did you copy this from?"
Now, that might seem like a silly thing to ask -- considering in this day and age, you'd just pop online and copy/paste some portion of the text and find out if someone copied it.  Back then, it wasn't so easy.  Teachers couldn't know everything...and I certainly could have gotten something out of some obscure book and written it down and turned it in with my name on it.
So, when I was asked that question...I replied that I didn't copy it.  The teacher looked at me in utter amazement and asked, "Really?" I'm sure he had his fair share of liars over the years saying they didn't, but, I didn't...and I stood my ground.  He then said to me, and I'll never forget his words (even if I did manage to forget his name):  "Wow, you should be a writer...this is really good."
I was happy as a little clam and, in the following years, I would forgo taking study halls and lunches and gleefully filled up my classes with more English classes.  Not those English classes where you have to know what the "past present pluragative of a subjugated non-plussed noun" was, but actual "writing" courses.
I was all set to whisk off one of my stories to Omni Magazine...because back then they'd actually solicit submissions -- when the worst possible thing that could happen, happened. 

They published a Ray Bradbury story...and then one from another well-known sci-fi writer -- and then yet another.  My dreams were dashed, they'd never use some silly 15-year-old girl from New Jersey's stuff now...not when they had the likes of this stuff to choose from.  I pushed my pen aside after high school and that was it. 
Then, one day, many years later, I was sitting around making small talk to a little kid while his brother and my daughter were at a Science Olympiad (there's that word again) competition. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, you know, the quintessential question every grown-up asks a kid...and he shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know.  He seemed a bit embarrassed by the fact that a child of his "advanced" age, which was probably about twelve, had absolutely no clue yet. I remarked about how silly it was to ask children what they wanted to be when they grew up anyway...because pretty much no one really knows what they want to be when they're that young.  I told him that I did, however, know one kid who was always saying he wanted to be a "political speech writer" when he grew up...and we'd kinda look at him and go "Uh, okay, Eddie."  I then continued and said, "You know, when I was little, I wanted to be a writer, too." 
Then I went silent.
It dawned on me, that my tiny young self...knew what I wanted to do -- but, my grown-up self never did.  And, when everything was all said and done...I still wanted to be a writer.  Why I hadn't realized until then was anyone's guess.
It wasn't the greatest revelation; I mean it wasn't like I could tell you, "And then my brain exploded!" -- altho, being that I was at a science competition, it would have been the right place for it...and it probably would have been awesome, you know...for the other people to witness...kinda like one of those volcanoes everyone makes with the lava spurting out on top...but it wasn't even that type of science competition anyway, so it's probably for the best that it never happened.
But, it still amuses me sometimes when I sit here and think, because I do think about it a lot...and I will never know what would have happened had I just slipped one of my stories inside an envelope, slapped some stamps on it, and sent it off to Omni.  I'll never know if they would have bit.  It only would have taken one bite, too - and my whole world would have turned out differently.
Yep, I'll never know what would have happened, but you could be damned sure if they HAD published one of my stories...you wouldn't be reading this crap right now! 

As for Eddie...you know...that silly kid I told you about who wanted to be a political speech writer when he was like in 6th grade...and 7th...and 8th...and so on?  Well, I think this about sums it up: 


As for "writer's block" -- I actually have no problem whatsoever coming up with the first word to start it all...it's the ones after that which are the hardest for me.  I really need to stop talking about being a writer one day -- and be one.


Thanks again to Nicky at her lovely blog, "We Work for Cheese", for giving me the opportunity all this month to enjoy a little bit of self-publicity, which, if you know me -- you know that I love nothing better. Well, okay, maybe I would love a chance to write a movie script...or a book...or...okay, I'm doing it again, aren't I?  Sorry.  

I managed to sneak in today's prompt, which was "And then my brain exploded" and the two I missed earlier on this month, which were "One bite" and "Liars".  I feel so utterly complete now.  

Lastly, I would like to take the opportunity to say to Ed Gillespie (who probably doesn't remember me at all): "Good luck with your Senate bid. I hope I didn't embarrass you too much by mentioning your name here. I know everyone (myself included) from your home town of Browns Mills, New Jersey, are so incredibly proud of you.  Here's wishing you only the best to you and your family...and, if you ever need a political joke writer...well, I'm here."  


27 February 2014

Day 27: But how did you find out?

"But, how did you find out?"
"The Internet, duh.  It's where I find everything out."

It's the "go to" place where everybody finds out anything they want to know about anyone (even themselves).  It doesn't matter if it's true or not...and it's so easy anyone can do it.
And the things you can easily find out about someone, with a minimum of digging...is astonishing.  In fact, I'm absolutely sure that if Dr. Seuss were still alive, he'd have come up with a book called "Oh the Thinks You Can Think To Click On!"

For example -- You wouldn't believe who used to play my interactive comedy website -- HumorMeOnline -- many years ago.  I mean EVERYONE would know their name (maybe three people wouldn't - but I doubt so) if I mentioned it.  I promised never to tell...and I never have.  They were floored when I asked them if they were who they were...and they were!  And, it wasn't a joke - I mean, they were -- and I found out...just by a few random, carefully constructed clicks. And they'd play my silly online comedy website all the time.  What fun!  
Dammit, I should have asked for a job!  Seriously.  I'm sure they've long since changed their email address...and it's been years since I've updated anything at my site...so even if they wanted to, they couldn't play it.  Oh well.  And it's not like I can call them up at their work.  "Uh...okay...my name is Mariann and they used to play at my website...no, seriously, they used to play my contests all the time...just go ask them.  Really, I'm not a whackjob...go ask.  I'm serious. Hello?  Hello?"
Think that would work?  I doubt it.  So here goes...let's just hope they are clicking random things on the Internet and find this...

Hey, famous person who used to play my silly online interactive comedy website...please hire me for something, okay?  I know you have the money.  You can do it.  It'll be our little secret.  If you don't, I'll tell, dammit!  I'll tell everyone!  I swear I'll let the cat outta the bag.
Maybe I should leave off that last part.  Whaddya think?
Yes, this was a senseless sort of blog, but I thought I would give everyone a break from reading what's really inside my little, tiny noggin. You don't want to know what's deep inside of it...plus it's all full of cobwebs and faulty neurons and such.  In fact, that's where I first got the idea for the word "Interwebs" from.  Yes, I coined the term "Interwebs": Internet + Cobwebs = Interwebs.  

Okay, I might have made that last part up - but the other stuff...it's all true.  I swear. 
By the way, here's a nice random photo of a kitty on a keyboard for you...for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  None whatsoever.  None...no seriously, I swear.  It's not like it's some obscure weird hint.  It's not.  It's not at all.  I'm just being silly...I swear.  You can click all you want...you won't find anything out.  Well, you might, but you'd really, really have to know what to click on. Plus, it would take ages.

And, after you've given up on clicking (or more likely, you never started)...click on this:  We Work for Cheese
It's only one more day until we all take a swig from those big bottles of vodka Nicky has promised to send us all for living through this month-long write-along.  Oh...she didn't say she'd send YOU one?  I could have sworn she said she'd send me one.  Don't worry, Nicky...it'll be our little secret.  ;)
Oh...I'm just kidding about that vodka thing.  I swear!

I swear.




26 February 2014

Day 26: Naked and Lost

Two guys from long ago,

Once, many, many years ago, when I was maybe around 15 years-old (approximately 1976) my girlfriend and I met up with the both of you, hanging around by the bridge at Mirror Lake.  After partaking of some "illegal green stuff" which isn't as illegal now as it was then, you might remember that we all decided to go skinny-dipping in the lake.

Naturally, you two guys...who were a few years older, but not wiser, were all for it...and stripped completely down as fast as you could and jumped on in -- figuring you were not only going to get a peek at our lithe naked bodies but probably would "get lucky" as well.
My friend and I, younger, but undoubtedly wiser...and with a bit of devilish streaks in us, grabbed your clothes and ran like mad with them.  We tossed them onto the side of the road up a ways and ran back to her house, laughing all the way, and crawled back through her bedroom window...pretending we never snuck out.  I am certain there was a fair amount of giggling that nite in her room and her parents probably knew what we were up to all along...but not all of it.

To this day I often wonder who you two guys were and how you ever got home, naked...and if you ever found those "lost" clothes of yours.

Consider this an open apology, two guys whose names I don't recall, I'm so sorry...but, I wished I would have seen your faces after it dawned on you that not all 15-year-old girls were "as easy" as all that.

So sorry,

- Mariann

This story is completely true, and, yes, I do often wonder how they managed. I wonder it more often than they probably will ever know.

This is part of a month-long writing challenge at "We Work for Cheese" -- Day 26 (two more to go) -- today's prompt being "Naked and Lost".

25 February 2014

Day 25: Social Media

(Tara Lipinksi and Johnny Weir - 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Figure Skating Commentators)

The whole time I'm watching the Olympics...and it was a LONG time I watched it (on two different channels - nite and day)...I'm thinking "Sochi Olympics" + "Social Media" = "Sochial Media" - but they never once said it.
They said their little Twitters were trending...going on and on about what Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski were wearing when they gave their Figure Skating reports...but not ONE time did I hear them utter "Sochial Media".
Seriously...what the hell was wrong with them? 
Anyway...the Olympics are over and damn...damn...they put on a great Closing Ceremony show...and they even poked fun of themselves with the last Olympic ring not opening (technical issue at the Opening Ceremony...the fifth ring never "blossomed" into a ring like the others).  I loved it!  The giant life-like Teddy-Ruxpinesque bear was...it was...I don't know.  How did they make it move like that?  I swear it was like they had a giant guy in a bear costume.  I'm bowled over.  I don't know who thinks of these spectacular sets and choreography and whatnot...but I do know one thing...
...they didn't think of "Sochial Media"!
Grumble grumble...
...but I have to admit - Tara and Johnny...you guys rocked! (I'm sure they are reading this blog right now...that's why I addressed them here.)  Loved his clothes.  Loved...loved...loved every single outfit. And they were both soooooo fun together...such natural chemistry. I hope they ditch Scott Hamilton and whoever that other guy was - next time around.  In fact, I hope they pair them up in every single Olympics...everything...everything. I don't care if it's diving or gymnastics...curling or bobsled...Summer or Winter games.  Get rid of everyone else and hire these two for every single thing!  They were great!  Plus they shut up when the skaters danced.  They knew better.  My ears are still ringing from Scott Hamilton's banshee-like screeches -- with his yelling at the top of his lungs over the music...and I have tinnitus!  He makes Sam Kinison's voice sound melodic in comparison.  Make it stop!  Make it stop! Please God, please...make it stop!  (Yes, God is reading my blog, too.)
Whew!  I am done now with my little rant.

Now...go on over to "We Work for Cheese" and see what everyone else came up with for today's "Social Media" prompt.

24 February 2014

Day 24: And then she said

She was going to make this outstandingly awesome blog about film editing...and then she said, "Shit!  The song doesn't have those exact words in it.  I could have sworn it did...but it doesn't."
She then copy/pasted/mailed the text she had written to herself in an email to herself as she always does when she writes her lame-o blog and then she just sat there thinking.
She thought a while.  Nothing was coming to her mind.  Sure, she could write a stupid segue to her original thought...but that was just, well, pretty lame again. 
She thought, originally, when seeing the prompt, always just right before she typed her blog...never reading them ahead of time, because she really did like the spontaneity of her mind thinking things one way and then ending up a whole other -- that it reminded her of that "She Said She Said" song by the Beatles.  "But," she thought to herself, "everyone would have probably thought of that straight away...but then again I bet no one has. But, it's not that great a blog idea anyway...not anywhere's as good as the film editing in the film musical, 'Chicago' with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah...and all the others in it."
But, while the intro to her blog was magnificent, citing Charles Chaplin's 1931 "City Lights" film and the fact he shot 314,256 feet of film and edited it down to 8.093 feet, pretty much single-handedly -- while also writing, directing, starring, and producing it, she had to scrap that idea -- pretty much like Chaplin had to scrap 306,163 feet of film.  Only, Chaplin was pure genius...and she was only "eh".
She always thinks everything she writes is "eh" because the times she thought it was "pretty damned good" no one paid much attention anyway.  It was like when she was in school and she'd always, always think she did poorly on a test, because it was so much easier finding out later that you did a great job than being disappointed if it turned out the other way around.  What a let-down to get your hopes up...best not to set them too high.
As it turns out, she's always secretly wishing, inside her head, that things will turn out great -- while still trying to convince her inner self that she doesn't. This whole "inner self talking to your other inner self" process is quite difficult.  She wonders if everyone thinks like she does.  "That" she says to herself, "would be awfully weird." Only she's not actually saying it out loud because THAT would probably be a bad sign, and no amount of thinking something good while trying to convince yourself something totally different...would ever change that one.  Talking to your own self with your own mouth with your own words coming out of it is definitely a bad thing.
But then, out of the blue, and just out of curiosity, she mustered up the courage and spoke aloud the words, "Or IS it?"
So far, so good. 
And then she said, but only where her head could hear, "Hmmmm...I simply can do that alone after all."

(In case you are all wondering, I thought the song in "Chicago" said "And then she said" - but it says "She'd say" instead...so I had to scrap my whole original idea. It also won the Academy Award aka "Oscar" for best film editing in 2002. This blog, in my opinion, would have been written so much more eloquently...and interestingly...if only...)

And, if you're still reading this...go on over to "We Work for Cheese" to read about everyone else's take on today's prompt, which again is "And then she said".  Go on - go on over.  You can do it...and you can do it alone.

23 February 2014

Day 23: There are things

I was watching the Olympics the other day and Women's Speed Skating came on.  The one woman they were talking about having a great chance at winning (I think she was from the Netherlands) was wearing one of those things that can only be described as a sports-minded body glove that hugs you tighter than gold lycra Disco pants ever did.  Of course they all were wearing them...but she was...to put it nicely -- "less endowed" than the others.  To be more accurate (from where I could tell from my vantage point on the sofa), she was nearly concave in her chest...where, normally, breasts would be.

The video clip of Russian, Olga Graf, unzipping her suit after her bronze medal win -- well, she was busty in comparison.

There are things you notice and there are things you don't...and I don't know if anyone else noticed...but many of these women appear to be very flat chested.  I mentioned this to my Facebook friend with whom I was private messaging at the time.  I also brought up (no pun intended) the fact that Tom Daley, from the UK men's diving team, probably had the opposite effect in the Summer Olympics.  Seriously, you want to enter the water with as little splash as humanly possible...but since you can only hide just so much inside a Speedo...and...um...built like he is...well, I'm figuring it make a splash all its own. 

He didn't want to hear that part, so I went back to talking about boobs.

I got to wondering if only the ones naturally built this way end up making it to this level (which might happen), if it's because the suit squishes you in so tightly that you appear to have no boobs...or if some actually go under the knife and get breast reduction surgery so they can be more aerodynamic.

I Google'd up a photo, as by then they had switched over to Women's Downhill Skiing...and noticed one skier after the other...were all flattish.  Don't believe me...look at this photo:

(Women's slalom medalists, from left, Austria's Marlies Schild (silver), United States' Mikaela Shiffrin (gold), and Kathrin Zettel (bronze) at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014)

Now it only goes to make logical sense that the bigger the boobs the more they get in the way of sports...so again, I Google'd and found an ABC news clip about breast reduction surgery in women's sports...which, if you're interested, is here:  ABC News Story: Female Athletes Get Breast Reduction to Improve Performance

While I don't know, of course, if these women had surgery...and, I'm not implying any of them really did...but if you can slice a full second off your skiing, skating, running, swimming, etc., time, which, in today's competitive field, sometimes means the difference between tenth place and first...what's to stop them from -- slicing a little more off?

And, I really have to wonder what type of message that sends out to girls taking up a sport in which boobs are really frowned upon.  Do these girls (like in the ABC video above) think they are going to be a much better athlete if they get them reduced from the get-go?  How much more value do we place on winning vs being okay in our own bodies?

Young girls already face a lot of self-image issues when they are growing up...do these coaches and other sports people who surround "potential future champions" encourage them to get such things done?  I'm actually very interested now...and will probably do a bit more research.

Sadly, I think I'm probably right in thinking what I'm thinking here...and there are things people shouldn't rush into doing. Some things, such as life-long, body altering decisions -- they should just slow down and take a lot more time thinking about it before they start.

All these female Olympians are extremely hard-working, phenomenal athletes who have the utmost of my respect.  I do not imply any of the ones I've mentioned/shown here or who are participating at the Sochi Olympics have had breast reduction surgery.  To do so would be idiotic of me...and I don't like being an idiot more than I have to.

My intention in choosing to write this blog was only to point out to people that it does indeed apparently happen, and in my opinion, it should be thoroughly and carefully thought out. Surgery hurts...and sometimes (as far as I can tell, from my own experience) the pain remains for years -- and possibly for life. Not all surgery is a piece of cake and without risk...don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. 

Now go on over to "We Work for Cheese" and see what everyone else came up with for today's writing prompt which is: "There are things".