Saturday, December 19, 2009

The answer to the question: "Which of the following Instruments did Suz play/study in her youth?"

Alright, here it is. I ("The Suz") played the following instruments throughout my illustrious "instrument-hopping" career. Living up to the motto, "better to try many things than actually stick with something and become really good at it", I dabbled in (in chronological order):

1) The piano: (from age 3 1/2...Suzuki Method for those familiar with this ear training philosophy.) The famous "hey, Suz, tellitagain" story is how I had to sit on a box in order to reach the keys to play such complex ditties as "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star".

2) The clarinet: After the piano, I started playing the clarinet and was actually pretty good at it. But because of this, and because ALL the kids were playing either the clarinet or the flute and I wanted to be different, I started playing...

3) The bassoon. Oh yeah! It 's the double-reed instrument that is sometimes mistaken for the oboe, although the oboe is a smaller than a clarinet and the bassoon was almost as tall as I was when I started playing it, which was my main motivation.

4) The cello: Again, the main motivation here was size, but also the desire to learn a stringed instrument. I also think Yo-Yo Ma was quite popular at the time. The "famous" story here is after my first lesson (again, see Suzuki Method), the instrument was leaning against a wall in my room and toppled over, splitting at its neck. It turns out it had been glued together so it was particularly vulnerable in that spot, but needless to say, I was quite upset and promptly quit the cello (or did the cello quit me..."I can't quit you!"?)

5) The drums: Oh, yeah again! Remember "Summer Music"? Did you have this program? Since I didn't grow up in a world of "sleep-away camp" like my east coast pals, we had summer music to get out of our parents' hair. I fancied myself a potential rocker, so I decided I should pursue another new instrument instead of perfecting a current one. I purchased a set of turquoise drum sticks and a drum "practice pad" and worked on loosening my wrists for the 'ol drum roll action, but it didn't get much further than me banging on the snare drum a few times in the basement band room of Paris Gibson Middle School (go Panthers!).

So that's the story of (some) of the instruments I played or attempted to play. I may or may not have left out the marimbas...and I may or may not have been a contestant in the Miss Great Falls pageant.*

*hint...may not have.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Sock Orphan Chronicles, Episode 1

Episode 1 will explain the genesis of the "sock orphan" and why you should care.

What, pray tell, is a "sock orphan"?

I'm glad you asked. A Sock Orphan is an article of clothing--in this case, a sock, that has lost it's mate or what is also called its "match".

What happened? Why is it lost? Too much Sartre?

First, the sock is not "lost" in terms of an Existential or identity crisis, but rather, physically lost. This loss is to a variety of circumstances, but the most common cause is Laundry Annihilation or what is known as Devouring Laundry Syndrome (DLS). Although only some of the stories circulating are substantiated, many people believe that the so-called "Sock Monster" is actually responsible for the loss of untold millions of socks. It is true that the Sock Monster is one of the key players--possibly even the #1 culprit in this war (think of him as the Osama Bin Laden of the War Against the Terrorization of Socks), he is merely a figurehead representing a much more significant problem.*

What can I do right now to help end Sock Orphandom?

The answer may surprise you: vow to keep a better eye on your own pairs of socks by ensuring that sock mates are folded or balled up (to each his own method) each and every time you complete a load of laundry.

I have extra money lying around. I'd like to donate to a charitable organization so I can impress my friends and also get a tax deduction. I am passionate about helping disaffected socks. What organizations do you recommend?

You can donate to organizations that help disaffected, refugee socks, such as the United Sock Refugee Camps of America, or the international organization Knitters for Ukniting Socks, a delightful group started by a retired children's librarian in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Is Sally Struthers involved in any reputable Sock Orphan Rescue organizations?

No. At present, Sock Orphan Rescue is an underrepresented, underfunded cause with no celebrity endorsements. My hope is that the awareness raised on high-traffic, totally free and unadvertised blog sites such as "All the Suz That's Fit to Print" will play a significant role in encouraging this grass roots effort to blossom.

So no Sally Struthers then, huh? Who else do you know? I'm not donating to an unknown hack.

Alright, enough! I know a guy who's cousin used to be friends with a guy who once delivered some flowers to the agent's assistant of Martha Plimpton, ok? I will work on it.

I am an aspiring stand-up comedian. Can I use the information you provide here in my new routine?

Everyone has their own stand-up routine based on missing articles of clothing--especially socks--but my guess is few have taken these routines to a public forum such as an Open Mic Night or even a full-on comedy set, so yes, go ahead and use whatever material you deem useful for future endeavors. Good luck!

*This "larger problem" will be discussed at length in forthcoming episodes of The Sock Orphan Chronicles.

Samantha Jones-McClaughlin has the week off.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pre-coffee Coffee

Those of you who know me at all may be shocked, stunned, and otherwise befuddled by the following deep, dark secret that lurks in my family history. You know Harry Potter, right? Young Harry lived in the cupboard and ate triscuits and Kraft American cheese slices until he was found and rescued by a mechanical owl and...well, you read it; I don't need to review the book for you, do I? Anywho, if you think Harry's tale is sad, you ain't seen nuthin' like the neglect suffered by the Suz.

Alright, already...I only made it through the first HP book (it was okay, ok?) so I realise I made most of that up, but it was meant to serve as a point of comparison to the historically factual stain upon my otherwise idyllic childhood*

You see, I grew up a wide-eyed and perfectly behaved Suz in the semi-wilds of Montana. Mother sewed our frocks and father harvested wheat 'down the way' for the hearty, life-sustaining breads which made me grow tall. Like I mentioned, however, (pay attention!!!) there was a stain. A stain! A stain on my family name.

We were a family of non-coffee drinkers.

There was no coffee in my house...well, there was some Sanka for when a guest or two showed up, but that's INSTANT DECAF, which is as coffee as watercolor paint water. At any rate, neither my mom nor my dad drink/drank/drunk the stuff. They didn't even consume tea, for crying in a pot (of coffee)! Needless to say, it has taken years of olfactory therapy to repair my neglected smelling sense, restoring it to it's natural in which the luxurious smell of this caffeinated delicacy entertains these cells on a daily basis. Got it? I was deprived and abused, but I will not sue. I will instead Suz.

Now to the point of the article (and you see the pattern continuing here, no? The one where it takes several paragraphs to get to any kind of point. Maybe just "a few" many is "a few" again? It has to be more than two since two is "a couple"...) As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, "Pre-coffee Coffee". Luckily for me I have made a few friends who understand this concept. I have also kept my other friends (you LDS folk know who you are and I apologise for demonising your childhoods as's nothing personal, ok?). Pre-coffee Coffee is not a requirement every day, but when it is, it's the coffee a person such as me requires in order to be able to sufficiently function in order to determine when and where to get real Coffee...that is, the Coffee that counts. This means that "pre-coffee" can be crappy and made by just about anyone. It means it can be weak or strong or Colombian or Folgers or Sumatra. It just needs to contain caffeine. "But Suz", you then ask, "Pepsi/Coke/Tab/Jolt/RC Cola/America's Choice cola/etc.etc.etc. contains caffeine." True. Not the same. "What about tea?" you insist.


Ladies and germs, there's just something about coffee. The smell. The ritual. The color. It is irreplaceable. When you are the kind of a person who understands the (albeit sick) concept of "pre-coffee Coffee", you also understand Coffee cannot exist within the realm of terms such as "like" or "dislike". It dwells on a planet all its own: Requirement. If you happen to live on the Planet Non-Requirement, there are days when I envy either your self-discipline or disinterestedness...

But this is before I've had my (wait for it) pre-coffee Coffee!

*For the record, the word "idyllic" is used loosely here--again, to emphasize the larger horror described in the same paragraph.

Source of pride in this article #1: I spelled "triscuit" correctly the first time, although I did look it up in Google as it was not included in Spell Check.

***Stay tuned for the transcript of Suz's upcoming interview with her mom, Linda Lee Johnson Myhr.***