LennyMud: The New Jersey Ceramics and Pottery Maker Who Shares My Sense of Humor

My friend Lisa’s birthday is today. Lisa is a delightful 2017 addition to what Marovich calls my “collection” of people. Together, we’re the mash-up, “D’Nisa.” While Lisa has many stellar qualities, I especially treasure her word play skills–par excellence. Her comment about the Christopher Walken Closet the other day had me dying. Lisa is one of the few friends who loves the Bob’s Burger intros and Burger of the Day titles as much as I do. Some make me hyperventilate in giggles. Just as with my bff since kindergarten, Darlene, or my bff since 7th grade, Marovich, Lisa is a joy to shop for–I just buy what I love, and I know they’ll love it, too (the exception being that with Marovich, lipstick shopping is officially OFF the table. Don’t ask.) So I was browsing online for Lisa’s birthday gifts and discovered this hilarious ceramics and pottery maker called Lennymud in New Jersey. If I made ceramics, this is exactly the stuff I would create. And then I read the owner’s bio. Now I want to be president of her fan club. (Weird coincidence — I may have called Jack “The Spawn” before.)

ABOUT LENNYMUD

Lenny is the name of my studio cat. I make the pots and Lenny breaks them: this way I never run out of shelf space.

Lenny is not for sale. Probably not.

I know my shop name makes me sound like a 50 year old man who smokes cigars, but I am a female who is sometimes told that she looks ten years younger than her real age. (My husband says the nicest things in the dark. When he’s drunk.) I am the mother to two, adorable children that I like to call The Spawn.

I like to make stuff. Sometimes I like to work with clay and other days I like to draw or paint. I work a busy day job– my Etsy shop lennymud.etsy.com is a hobby or perhaps a midlife crisis. You are invited to stalk me on my facebook fan page here http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lennymud/179831098733257
or follow me at Twitter: LennyMud.

And yes, it’s ok if you call me Lenny.

Based solely on @LennyMud’s artisan output, she is just the sort of person D’Nisa would hang with, if she only lived closer. Here’s what I mean:

The Lionel Cheese Platter! Perfect for your next AA meeting!

For me, tea is just a beverage masquerading as lame coffee, but this mug could make me like it…

I mean, seriously. Who DOESN’T need this teapot?

 

#BeatTheHeatIn4Words

The trending hashtag today on Twitter is #BeatTheHeatIn4Words. It is wrong that I instantly thought of Dairy Queen? My 4-word suggestion: Dairy Queen Turtle Sundae. This is part of DQ’s “hidden menu.” I think it used to be on their regular menu, but ever since this confusing Dairy Queen-Orange Julius merger, things have gotten a little weird. But whenever I think of caramel, whipped cream and hot fudge, I instantly think of the Sister Wives.

You see, the Sister Wives and I made a commitment to each other long ago. Our lifetime of depriving ourselves of hot fudge and caramel sundaes in the name of chasing junior-sized clothing will officially end once any one of us is on our deathbed. When we’re ready to take that final dirt nap, we’ve all committed to each other that at least three of us will be administering hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream in one final, delicious cornucopia of calories, gently poured down the throat of the dying Sister Wife in a flavorful fare-thee-well.

Death by dessert.

Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

 

It’s only fitting (since our clothes are fitting, due to extreme dessert deprivation). The only discrepancy will be Sister Wife Heather, who confounds me. You see, she doesn’t like whipping cream. (I’m saddened, just thinking of all the fun she must have missed in college…).

There used to be a really great series on Showtime called “HUFF,” starring Hank Azaria, Blythe Danner and Oliver Platt. Blythe played this salty, sassy, aging mother. One of her card-playing friends was on her death bed after a major stroke, so Blythe gathered up her remaining friends, went to the hospital and administered the final solution out of mercy for her friend. That touching scene, and that act of friendship, has haunted me since I first saw it. This was well before I ever knew the Sister Wives.

Call us morbid, but we discuss and refine this final chapter of our lives ad nauseam. We plot our final move to Oregon with the same level of care and detail that some folks put into planning their family vacations. The last time we were together, Heather sought my reassurance that I’d be okay with generic whipping cream. She was concerned that if mine was a sudden, imminent death, she might only have time to do rushed shopping in a gas station or 7-11 on her race to the hospital. I acquiesced. I might be so drugged up as to not be able to taste the difference at that point. I also agreed to Cool Whip, if things got really desperate. Hopefully, she remembers to pack a large spoon.

The Sister Wives’ annual “glamping” trip is coming up shortly. (Glamping involves air conditioned, fully furnished housing with cable TV in a campground setting.) I’ve drawn up the legal documents, and I’ve already identified the notary in Baraboo, Wisconsin. When it comes to these kinds of commitments, we Sister Wives are. dead. serious.

RIP, MIA

If I had to name a theme, I’d characterize the last 14 months as heartbreak and loss. I sure hope it ends soon.

Last weekend we memorialized my friend Mia, who died way too young unexpectedly–at age 42–from mistakes made during surgery. While I cried for all of us, I cried especially hard for my cousin Becky. She and Mia were next-door neighbors and best friends since childhood. Becky wept for an entire week. How she, or anyone, found the strength to eulogize Mia last weekend, I will never know. Again, it’s something I can never do because I totally lose it. But, I wanted to share some thoughts about Mia here.

Becky & Mia, BFFs.

Becky & Mia, BFFs.

Mia and her brother Chris (my cousin Jeff’s best childhood friend) were both adopted at a young age. Since I spent so much time at the family farm, they became my extended cousins. I remember as a child being so excited to meet Mia and Chris, because I was the only adopted child I knew. Although I never said it aloud, I always felt a special kinship with Mia and Chris. Adoptees carry the albatross of an inner monologue for which the rest of the world is simply unaware. We are always asking ourselves “Why?”

The lasting impression we all have of Mia is that of her smile. It would bathe the coldest, darkest room in the brightest of light. I loved her wit and sarcasm, and the way she and Becky–like true sisters–were always busting each other’s balls. It was always so much fun being with them.

Mia and Becky - smiles like sunbeams.

Mia and Becky – smiles like sunbeams.

In the photos Mia’s family shared of her during the service, there was only one where she wasn’t smiling. We learned that it was her photo from the orphanage in Korea. Later, at Mott’s Lounge, Becky told me how Mia always had problems with her one wrist. Finally, as an adult, Mia saw a doctor about it, who asked her, “Were you ever in an orphanage?” She confirmed it, surprised the doctor would know that. He told her it was common to see this wrist malfunction in children who stood hanging onto their cribs for hours on end in an orphanage. It’s no wonder that was the only photo where Mia wasn’t smiling. Becky wishes the doctor had never told Mia that, adding one more dark thread to her life’s tapestry.

Since Mia passed and was buried in Colorado, a tree was planted at the cemetery just down the road from my uncle’s farm. This is the same cemetery where my uncle, my adoptive dad, and my other relatives are buried.

The gravestone that took 10 months to get finished, all because I demanded there be a lower case "C" in McDonald and it fouled up their stonecutting logistics.

My dad’s gravestone that took 10 months to get finished, all because I demanded there be a lower case “c” in McDonald and it fouled up their stonecutting logistics. I’m still unhappy with the size of the “c.”

My cousin Jeff, his wife Janell and I made the mistake of standing together at the tree planting portion of the service. In retrospect, we should have realized this error in judgement. An elderly gentleman standing in front of us punctuated everything the pastor said with a resounding fart. I started giggling with my hand over my mouth, muffling the sound. My shoulders were shaking, and I hoped it would be mistaken for weeping. It was not. Knowing me all too well, Jeff glanced over at me, saw my shoulders shaking, and it was GAME OVER, MAN!

Jeff, Janell, and I briskly walked far away from within hearing distance, to find my father’s grave and not have our cackles overheard. We didn’t want to convey any irreverence to Mia, but truth be told, I could feel her standing with us, doubled over, laughing. Soon Becky and her husband Sean weren’t far behind us, in the same state. Whenever we all get together, we are groupthink reduced to the mindset of a 13-year-old boy. It feels good to return to that happy place, where we are all still untouched and not yet pummeled by life and heartbreaking loss. It just feels good.

 

The Racquetball Chronicles: What IS It About SNOOPY’s Laugh?

My BFF Marovich and I resumed our racquetball war this morning, after taking several months off. I knew I was at risk of injury when Marovich’s tight headband flew off and landed in the server’s box, in her mad exuberance to whale on the ball. I lost the first game 21 to 3.

Since we hadn’t seen each other in a while, we took a break outside of the court to catch up on news. And that was when she shared this ridiculous tale. Fair warning: This probably won’t be nearly as funny to those of you reading this, but I literally cried my makeup off laughing. This story demonstrates our shared, stupid, juvenile humor. You know, the humor that probably only we think is funny.

SNOOPY laughing himself right out of the library.

SNOOPY laughing himself right out of the library.

So Marovich started out her story by asking me if I’ve ever heard SNOOPY laugh. I had, and I started giggling, straight up. If you have no idea what SNOOPY laughing sounds like, please watch this brief, :25 second clip of SNOOPY laughing in the library:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH9MAhDvNjo

(On a side note, I especially love this clip because SNOOPY gets kicked out of the library for laughing, which is like an animated retelling of Marovich’s and my 7th grade year.)

Marovich and my friend Chrissy were shopping at TARGET and they came across this SNOOPY toy with the laughter sound chip. At that very moment, Chrissy made it her mission to nail the pitch-perfect impression of the SNOOPY laugh. She worked hard on it for many days to get it down, exactly right.

She and Marovich hosted Thanksgiving dinner for Chrissy’s side of the family, and Marovich dared Chrissy to do the SNOOPY laugh every time someone said something even mildly funny. Chrissy did. Several times. No one blinked. No one laughed. No one thought anything was weird. Which, you know, is kind of insulting that someone in her own family–all of them, in fact–actually tuned her out, thinking, “Oh, that’s just Chrissy’s stupid laugh…”

So while we were sitting outside of the racquetball court, I pulled up the YouTube video of SNOOPY laughing, and that’s when we started laughing so hysterically, I cried my makeup off. I had visions of Chrissy doing this stupid laugh at Thanksgiving and everyone sitting around the table deadpan, nonplussed. One of the guys who was taking over our court after us walked in on me howling with laughter, and without even knowing what the hell was up, he started laughing. We went back into the court to play out our remaining 10 minutes. Every time I was about to serve, Marovich would throw her head back in that SNOOPY pose and do the SNOOPY laugh, and I’d lose the strength of my serve. She was Delilah to my Samson. By some miracle, I was still winning 7 – 3 when the clock ran out.

Marovich knows when I am way too deep into one of our conversations, I don’t pay attention to whatever else I’m doing. This has led to many funny stories over the years, like the time I drove up and yelled our coffee order to the garbage can at Dunkin’ Donuts, with Marovich sitting in the passenger’s seat, dying of laughter as I was looking over at her with my WTF puzzled face. (In my defense, the garbage can had this weird lid on it that could have been mistaken for the squawk box.)

So today was no different. I drove us to racquetball. As we exited and hit the parking lot, I pressed my key fob, with Marovich following me towards my black SUV. I couldn’t figure out why the damned door wouldn’t open, and uh-oh, when did I get this new scratch in the paint on my driver’s side? Marovich snorted, “This is a Nissan. This isn’t your truck.” So we walked over to the next black truck, tried to get in, and again, the key fob didn’t work. “This is a Chevy,” she pointed out, exasperated. By now, Marovich took it upon herself to find my Highlander, before I made a career out of attempted breaking and entering into every black vehicle that wasn’t mine in this parking lot. “Third time’s a charm,” she snarked, followed by, “This had better go in your fucking blog.”

I can hear her SNOOPY laugh all of the way from here.

Dave Daughtry, R.I.P. A Close Friend, Mentor and Bon Vivant

When I moved to Northwest Florida, I formed a production services association to network with fellow production people. One of the first people I befriended was Denise Daughtry, who was the Pensacola film commissioner. When I was pregnant with Jack, she invited Dave Dorman and me over for lunch one day. As we sat in her fabulous kitchen, adorned with gorgeous antiques–my favorite thing–in walked her tall, gorgeous husband, bigger than life. He had this enormous stage presence, and reminded me a lot of western star Clu Gulager, but better looking.

Dave Daughtry, my friend, mentor, and someone who was just as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.

Dave Daughtry, my friend, mentor, and someone who was just as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.

It was then that I witnessed my Dave–who has met everyone from George Lucas to Guillermo del Toro–become starstruck. I’d never seen this before! Since I was new to the area, I didn’t realize Denise’s husband Dave Daughtry had been the nightly newscaster on the Pensacola TV station. But my Dave, who had lived there for 25 years, adored and admired him from afar. And now he was getting to know Dave Daughtry up close and personal.

For the remainder of the time I lived in Florida, they were an integral part of our social circle. They were with me at 5 p.m. on November 2nd when my first labor pains kicked in, and they were the first to meet newborn Jack in person, after Dave and my parents.

James Bond had nothing on Dave Daughtry.

James Bond had nothing on Dave Daughtry.

Last year I got to spend more time with the Daughtrys than usual. They hosted me in their lovely, historic home on many occasions as I traveled to the area on business. Dave would drive me to the airport with his two beloved standard poodles, Peachy and Pal, in his Jeep. We had great conversations and plenty of laughs. To say I will miss him is an understatement.

Without further adieu, here is his obit:

Services Saturday

Longtime broadcaster Dave Daughtry dies after more than 50 years in radio/TV

Funeral services will be held Saturday for Dave Daughtry, a popular figure in local radio and television for more than 30 years.

Mr. Daughtry died Tuesday at a Pensacola hospital. The native of Macon County, Ala. was 76.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Pensacola. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m.

Mr. Daughtry, who got his start in broadcasting at a small radio station in Andalusia, Ala., had hosted the morning show on WEBY-AM in Milton for the past 14 years. In addition, he moderated a Sunday night BLAB-TV show, “Justice for All,” featuring attorneys Barry Beroset and Tommy Ratchford.

Although he also had been an anchor on WEAR-TV in Pensacola and a reporter-anchor on WALA-TV in Mobile, “radio was what he loved most,” said Denise Chenel Daughtry, his wife of 26 years.

His love meant long and early hours. He started preparing for his two-hour show at 2:30 a.m. and arrived at the Milton station at5 a.m. in order to go on the air at 6 a.m.

“He joined us in 2001 and he’s been our morning guy ever since,” said Mike Bates, owner of WEBY. “We even ran a promotion called ‘Wake Up With Dave’ and that’s what a lot of people did.”

In addition to delivering news, weather and sports, Mr. Daughtry created a whimsical character, “Farmer Dave,” who dispensed folksy bits of philosophy. The “Farmer Dave” title was tongue-in-cheek, his wife said, because he knew a lot about gardening but little about farming.

However, he knew a lot about broadcasting in a career that covered several states and innumerable assignments. From that first job in Andalusia Mr. Daughtry went to Huntsville and worked his way up at other stations before moving to Nashville, Tenn. and switching to television. He was news director and anchor for WSM television and dominated the ratings there for several years.

He was press secretary for the City of Knoxville and also worked at television stations in Memphis, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Daughtry came to Pensacola more than 30 years ago to anchor the news at WEAR-TV and then spent several years with WALA-TV.

Along with his love for newsgathering and writing, he had a strong voice and loved to belt out songs. His beloved dogs Peaches and Pal often accompanied him on trips from his home in the Historic Seville District in Pensacola.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children: Bonnie Daughtry Barazza (Mike), Michael Daughtry (Sheila) and Patrick Daughtry (Lynn), all of the Auburn, Ala. area. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren: Lindsey Seal, Shannon Barazza Hlcome, Evan Barazza, Patrick Houston Daughtry Jr., Amanda Daughtry Van Ausdal, Shelby Prestridge and Benjamin Daughtry. Mr. Daughtry also was eagerly awaiting the birth of his first great-grandchild by Amanda and Don Van Ausdal.

Zumba-Palooza and the Sister Wives

For my birthday adventure this year, I decided to plug my (non-Mormon) Sister Wives into a private Zumba lesson. I should be up for some sort of Logistics Industry Award for herding these cats and getting this scheduled between 5 busy women, 1 busy instructor, and three separate re-bookings. So yesterday my kooky collection of kindred spirits joined me in a session that I’m eternally grateful got nowhere near Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook…a mere 58 days after my birthday.

You can count on my friends for shenanigans. Yesterday was no different. My favorite Southie Sister Wife pulled down her runner’s pants and hovered her sweaty ass above the floor fan as the instructor’s back was turned, doubling me over in laughs. Next up, my favorite half-Sicilian, half-Irish Sister Wife grabbed my hands and turned a solo meringue routine into ballroom dancing. (I’m unsure which of us was the dude in this scenario.) And then there was Ophelia. As we stood there post-Zumba, all glistening and tomato-faced, she discovered they offered pole fitness classes there. And now we all share in the knowledge that Ophelia is impressed by strippers who can hang from a pole by just the sheer strength of their bare legs. Her parting shot: “Why I’m even at a strip club is another story…” One of the Sister Wives reminded everyone that our local strip club offers “Pole Dancer Amateur Night,” but the final consensus was that we were far too amateur for even that. Baby steps.

This morning I shared this meme below with my Sister Wives. Ophelia fired off a comment right away: No, we definitely looked more like the first picture.” I remember it a little differently. Let’s just say my dyslexia with numbers also extends to my Zumba moves.

The perfect meme for anyone in Zumba.

The perfect meme for anyone in Zumba.

 

Deconstructing the Earthworm Fart (TM)

Admittedly, I was not looking forward to spring break this year–2 weeks of hearing the young Padawan’s endless comments about farts, poop, balls, and wieners…but then one day, I took a good look in the mirror, and realized I was the Beavis-meets-Butthead driving this sophomoric, scatological humor train. This could be why my family and friends post stuff like this on my Facebook page without any hesitancy:

My Christmas shopping is done for this year...

My Christmas shopping is already done for this year…

I sort of realized it when Jack asked me for permission to do something and my quid pro quo was having him perform his best “earthworm fart.” Then there was our emoji text message exchange on Sunday morning, which had numerous piles of smiling poop emojis. You know the one…this one:

Text exchange between Jack & me Sunday a.m.

Text exchange between Jack & me Sunday a.m. My comments are in blue bubbles. I’m just grateful he spells “diarrhea” correctly, even in text speak…I must be doing SOMETHING right.

So…I went to play racquetball w/BFF Marovich Sunday morning (who didn’t hand my ass to me this week – I am improving and actually sort of won the last game because time was up as I was serving – I believe the score was 5-2) and back at her house, I reminded her of her infamous earthworm fart. You see, Marovich started this whole thing. She would always do stuff to make me laugh (never a quiet, polite laugh, mind you, but a full on giggle-turned-guffaw) and get us kicked out of the library when we were in junior high. She has this enviable gift for doing and saying the most outlandish things and keeping her poker face, which always makes me laugh even harder. So…she was a good sport about letting me videotape her on Sunday morning, but first, you will note, she had to pull a quick cross-eyed Eugene Levy-as-Loopy face…referenced here:

Eugene Levy as "Loopy" with two left feet from "Best in Show"

Eugene Levy as “Loopy” with two left feet from “Best in Show”

which always cracks me up…so the camera may shake a little, but you’ll get the idea. So without further adieu, here’s Marovich demonstrating her own invention, the one-and-only, legendary Earthworm Fart(TM):                                                                                                            

 http://bitly.com/EarthwormFart

 

 

 

The Comedy Genius That Is Bob Odenkirk

Sure, I’m loving “Better Call Saul,” but there’s a YouTube video I watch over and over again, which I’m sharing with you now. You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen Bob Odenkirk play Charles Manson on The Ben Stiller Show:

Bob Odenkirk as Charles Manson

Bob Odenkirk in his most hilarious role EVER – as Charles Manson

Click here to laugh really hard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5IrRe2F7qY

So Marovich, my bff since 7th grade, knows how to sucker punch me with Manson-isms when she wants me to giggle at inappropriate moments – she does the hand gestures, the spins and crouches, and pretty much everything exactly like Bob Odenkirk. There is zero chance of me maintaining any poker face. If I have dinner at Marovich’s house, I’m likely to hear the line “I’ll fix brain stew for dinner when I’m the cook, Jack!” The evening will end with this thoughtful, raspy little comment, “You can’t hear nothin’ when your head’s in a bag, Jack!” or… “I got the eye of the tiger and I dunno who to kill first! You can lock me up but you can’t block me up!”

If you’ve never seen Bob Odenkirk as Manson, just remember, it can’t be unseen.

That Time I Got Kicked Out of the HOUSE of BLUES in CHICAGO

I just received this direct message from Pat Benatar’s marketing team (clear the decks for 4/22 my friends…)…

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at The Arcada Theater in St. Charles, IL 4/22/15

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo at The Arcada Theater in St. Charles, IL 4/22/15

…and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the last Pat Benatar concert I attended. That was the fateful 1990s night that I and my crew got kicked out of the HOUSE of BLUES in Chicago.

My partner in crime and BFF since 7th grade, Marovich, (see this link for reference) came to the concert with her daughter Shorty C-Spice’s 3rd Grade teacher, joining me and my friend Marlot Cheetah. (I should add, “Marlot Cheetah: The-‘t’-is-silent” is her bad 1960s Elvis Jungle Room name – mine is “Silkie Pantera.”) We four were in high spirits, ready to get our ’80s on.

Marovich had some Club Level membership, which was really lame, because there was zero stage visibility from there. We decided to head down to the floor and party with the rest of the unwashed masses. I should add, Marovich’s little brother (who, by default, is my little brother, whether he likes it or not) had recently become employed as the lighting designer there. He was working that night, and his electronics boards were on the main floor level, out in the open, and rather exposed. This data comes into play a little later.

I had one of my infamous big purses on my arm and a beer in my hand, carefully swaying to Pat Benatar’s impressive, operatic voice range. Out of nowhere, this couple in front of me turned around and threw a beer in my face. It was the strangest thing. I had no altercation with them, I wasn’t standing too close to them, and I had said and done nothing to provoke such aggressive behavior.

I didn’t know Shorty C-Spice’s 3rd Grade teacher very well, but that night I learned one important detail: She has a hair-trigger temper. My plan was to ignore the whole thing and continue on with the concert. 3rd Grade Teacher’s plan was to start a brawl.

3rd Grade Teacher retaliated. She screamed some salty language while throwing her sticky cocktail at them. As I stood there swaying to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” ironically, the couple in front of me was chasing Shorty C-Spice’s 3rd Grade teacher into the front lobby. By the time I got there, the muscular, Italian boyfriend had 3rd Grade Teacher’s arms pinned above her head to the wall as his girlfriend was hitting 3rd Grade Teacher with her best shots, right in the stomach. It had escalated from zero to crazy town in a matter of seconds. Marlot Cheetah jumped right into the fray, and the muscular boyfriend threw her down. She hit her head, hard, on the metal railing. I can still hear the clanging sound. It was so horrible, frightening, and out of control. By the time the can’t-be-reasoned-with meathead security team arrived, we were all asked to leave. The beatings were clearly one-sided, and despite Marovich’s elite Club Level membership, nothing could be done. We were OUT.

The next day our baby brother called, cursing us. He spent his morning  cleaning his lighting electronics boards with Q-tips and rubbing alcohol. A sticky, mixed drink targeted for 3rd Grade Teacher somehow landed directly on his boards. He has since retaliated, and this triggered a never-ending practical joke war with “our” baby brother. There’s no end in sight.

To this day, I still wonder what prompted this couple to throw their beer at me? It’s one of those unresolved conflicts to which I’ll never know the answer. I hate that it still rents space in my brain.

Come to think of it, Pat Benatar should pay us to attend her next concert…

And our baby brother Johnny Rock Star weighs in.

…And our baby brother Johnny Rock Star weighs in.