July 6, 2001
The Second Annual Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Awards!

[Brought to you by Lancôme: The Official Waterproof Mascara of The *2001 SecraTerri/Ю僱êrvØ¡ Wedding.*]

Incredible as it may seem, an entire year has passed since the first Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Awards.

If you were reading *FootNotes* a year ago, you may recall that what started out as something negative -- a voodoo curse, e-mailed anonymously to David -- somehow managed to morph itself into this bizarre celebration of overall karmic grooviness.

Funny how that happens.

That journal entry proved to be a big success, at least if the volume of e-mail I got afterwards was any indication. I think a lot of people could relate to my need to recognize the good stuff, for a change. In a world of relentless non-grooviness, everywhere you turn -- Timothy McVeigh, Andrea Yager, Gary Condit, dog maulings, rolling blackouts, "Big Brother II," that horrible British woman on "Weakest Link" -- I think it's important to stop once in awhile and acknowledge the people who are contributing *positivity molecules* to the universe in general ... and to your life in particular.

And now I guess it's time to do it again.

Here, then, are the winners of the 2001 Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Awards:

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  • Bob The Engineer Guy.

    It was a real challenge coming up with somebody from The Totem Pole Company worthy of the HVPT Award this year, frankly ... MAINLY because most of my favorite co-workers have all been fired/been transferred/taken extended "leaves of absence"/entered the Federal Witness Protection Program since the last time I handed out the awards.

    Still, Bob The Engineer Guy probably deserves a HVPTA as much as anyone.

    He is one of a tiny handful of people who were there when I started working at the TPC, two and a half years ago. He didn't bet against me in the *How Long Will She Last With Franz?* pool. He has never dumped a last-minute bazillion-page typing project on me, badgered me about joining the company softball team or engaged in a conversation with my chest. He's pleasant, he's funny, he's good at his job, and he doesn't get upset when I accidentally mix him up him Bob The Other Engineer Guy, or Bob The OTHER-Other Engineer Guy, or Bob The Auxiliary Engineer Guy (Just So We've Always Got An Extra *Bob* Around, If We Need One).

    Bob's cool. He deserves this award. Way to go, Bob.

    (Of course, now that I've singled him out for attention and praise, BOB will probably be transferred to the Milpitas office on Monday.)

    Runner-Up:  Danny The Executive Ass Guy. My *partner* in the fourth floor Admin Department, and undoubtedly the only Executive Ass ever in Totem Pole Company history to wear an earring and a moustache. (On purpose, I mean.)

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  • Tina Wesson.

    So ... have you had enough of her yet?

    Are you burned out on her relentlessly self-serving media presence? Are you sick of seeing her face every time you turn on the TV/leaf through a magazine/open a web browser?

    Me neither.

    That's because the winner of the second "Survivor" competition -- unlike her nauseatingly ubiquitous predecessor -- has taken the high road, publicity-wise, and has chosen to maintain a lower (and classier) profile.

    This may all change, of course, the moment "Survivor III" kicks in. That's when they'll probably start trotting her out to provide *color commentary* on the latest batch of contestants.

    But in the meantime I, for one, am impressed not only by her victory ... but by her restraint.

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  • Whoever invented A&W Diet Cream Soda.

    I may not be able to dive-bomb into a bucket of Dreyer's Triple Chocolate Thunder every night after dinner, anymore ... but, by God, I can have a frosty cold can of A&W Diet Cream Soda or three, once in a while.

    (Although an observant and concerned *FootNotes* reader recently wrote to point out that A&W Diet Cream Soda actually contains caffeine, a fact that had somehow escaped my notice. "Do you think that may have something to do with your sleep problems?" she innocently inquired. And I'm sure it probably does ... although not because of the caffeine. See: 36 ounces of A&W Diet Cream Soda right before bedtime/iffy middle-aged bladder.)

    I don't care. A&W Diet Cream Soda  --  like ice cream before it, and cranberry juice before that, and big boxes of cheap chablis before that  -- is often the centerpiece of my evening's *entertainment.* And I think it's worth a middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom.

    Or three.

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  • My two *other* favorite Northern California Internet journalers, Bev of "Funny the World" and Sunny of "Sunshyn's Daydreams."

    I know what you're thinking.

    "Wait just a cotton-picking minute!" you're thinking. "You're giving Bev & Sunny 'Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Awards' because you met them in person this past year!"

    And of course you're absolutely right. I am giving them Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Awards because I met them in person this past year.  Buy me lunch, and I'll give YOU a Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Award next year, too.

    But I'm also giving them HVPT Awards because they write about stuff I'm interested in: health issues and recovery issues and *comfortable shoe issues* ... because they know how to spell the big words (and how to punctuate them) ... and because they're good people and good writers who make me laugh and make me cry and make me think, on a regular basis.

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  • The Dandy Warhols.

    OK. I'll admit it. Going into the record store and buying "Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia" made me feel like I was still riding the hip curve.

    (Of course, I was ALSO buying Tommy Roe and The Kingston Trio. Shut up.)

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  • The Counter Ladies at the Marina Village Subway.

    There are two Subway restaurants in Alameda: one at the South Shore Mall, the other one in the Marina Village Shopping Center. This spring, David and I have spent a considerable amount of time in both of them. Or, more accurately, we've spent a "considerable amount of time" at the South Shore location. We've spent almost no time at all at the Marina Village location. That's because the counter ladies at the Marina Village Subway 1.) recognize you after your second or third visit, 2.) remember that you habitually order the low-fat no cheese/no mayo/extra jalapeños turkey sub and 2.) are able to construct your low-fat no cheese/no mayo/extra jalapeños turkey sub in less time than it takes the surly counterperson at the South Shore location to finish her cell phone conversation, stub out her cigarette and pull on her little plastic gloves.

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  • My high school pal (turned Catering-Advisor Extraordinaire), Kevin Lanning.

    One of the benefits of bravely/stoopidly posting the link to *FootNotes* on the Classmates.com website is that I often hear from former classmates with whom I have had absolutely no contact whatsoever in almost three decades.

    (Of course this is also one of the drawbacks, occasionally. See: "It's Twenty-Six Years Later and I'm Still All Pissed Off About Those 'Guess Who' Tickets.")

    In the case of my old friend Kevin, however, re-establishing contact after so many years has been a delight, a discovery, and  --  for reasons I could not have predicted when we began corresponding again  --  a godsend. With twenty-plus years' experience in the restaurant industry, he has sort of singlehandedly rescued my wedding buffet. In the Long Ago & Far Away of high school, Kevin was the first boy I ever knew who wrote poetry ... and who didn't care if people knew about it. He was also the first person to turn me on to Kahlil Gibran. In the mid-70's, that was some pretty heavy-duty grooviness.

    Now, in the 00's, he's "writing" the menu for my post-wedding-ceremony dinner, which he and his lovely wife will be sharing with us and with the rest of our honored wedding guests.

    I have no idea what "Fresh Basil Chiffonade" is, exactly ... but it sounds pretty damn groovy, if you ask me.

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  • Matt Lauer.

    A very special Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Award to Matt Lauer, who recently became a father for the first time.

    Congratulations Matt Lauer!!!!!

    And yes, I suppose that if you want to get technical about it, there were other people nominally involved in the process: God ... the obstetrician ... the nurses ... Annette what's-her-name. But when THEY are able to travel from Peru to the North Sea to Paris to Thailand to Greece in five days, without shaving, and still look as hot as Matt Lauer does ... then THEY can have a Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Award, too.

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  • Teri, Donna and Rebecca, my three favorite *FootNotes* readers this week.

    I love all of my loyal *FootNotes* readers equally and unconditionally, with a deep and enduring love that transcends the boundaries of time and space and bandwidth and Zip Codes and stuff.

    Having said that ... sometimes I love some readers more than I love others.

    When I write about recovery issues, for instance, I love the readers who write to tell me I remind them of their mothers/their spouses/their daughters/themselves ... or to relate their own tales of vomiting into metal wastebaskets and fringed suede purses ... or to thank me for sharing my experiences in such revealing and unflinching fashion.

    When I write about weight loss and bike riding, I love the readers who write to say that I've inspired them to climb onto a Schwinn for the first time in twenty years.

    And when I write about how I'm probably not going to have a computer with me on the honeymoon, I love the readers who immediately write to troubleshoot ("Are you sure you're inserting the modem into the correct slot?") ... or to offer to administrate the website in my absence ("If you get someone to e-mail me the wedding .jpgs, I can upload them for you") ... or to offer to send me their old unused laptop ("I'm sure it would be much happier with you.").

    Due to the combined smarts and generosity of Teri, Donna and Rebecca -- a team effort if ever there was one -- there probably will be a *FootNotes Honeymoon Update* or two, after all. And you have Teri, Donna and Rebecca to thank!

    (Ю僱êrvØ¡: "Yeah. Thanks a heap.")

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  • Our landlady, Alma.

    She just raised our rent another 15%, she refuses to evict Upstairs Neighbor Guy for us, and we've got ducks pooping in the swimming pool again this summer ... but David and I love our landlady anyway.

    Not only is Alma cute as a button  --  when you look at her, you either want to kiss her or adopt her  --  but she also takes very good care of us, her favorite tenants. When I accidentally put my arm through the bedroom window, last summer, she called around and got us the best price on replacement glass. When our bathroom sink was backed up last week, she had a plumber out to fix it the very next day.

    And when the mailman deposits another Bed, Bath & Beyond delivery on her doorstep, while David and I are at work, she uncomplainingly signs for it and adds it to the pile in the middle of her living room.

    (I'm sure she's going to be just as relieved as *we* are when all of this wedding stuff is over with.)

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  • The nice people at Lancôme Paris .

    Yes, your waterproof mascara costs more than a Jumbo Roundtable Chicken Rostadoro Pizza.

    Yes, ordering your waterproof mascara from your incredibly slow, ridiculously Java-intensive website takes longer than the wedding ceremony, the reception AND the honeymoon put together.

    (Yes, it's a pain-in-the-butt to remember to put that little inverted-V thingy above the "o" in Lancôme, every time I write about your waterproof mascara on my website.)

    But here's why you're receiving a Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Award this year, Lancôme Paris: because your waterproof mascara is the waterproof mascara that won't be melting into my bridal bouquet, two weeks from now. You passed extensive and rigorous Boo-Hoo Tests, right here in the *FootNotes* laboratories ... you competed against every other brand of waterproof mascara on the market ... and you won, fair and square.

    Lancôme: The Official Waterproof Mascara of The *2001 SecraTerri/Ю僱êrvØ¡ Wedding.*

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  • My AC Transit Bus Driver last Friday.

    I watched in horror, last week, as an elderly Asian-American woman tumbled from the doorway of the #51, as she was attempting to pull her handcart up the stairs of the bus. She fell with a sickening crash, landing on the sidewalk on her hands and knees. As my fellow passengers and I gathered up her scattered belongings, the bus driver leapt from his seat and literally carried her onto the bus, seating her gently in the spot directly behind him. He checked her thoroughly for injuries before starting up the bus again  --  she was remarkably unscathed, all things considered: just a few bumps and bruises  --  and as we drove from downtown Oakland to Alameda he maintained a constant, reassuring dialogue with her. ("Now let's see you move the fingers on your right hand.")

    But it didn't stop there. When we got to her stop in Alameda, the bus driver parked the bus, helped her down the stairs and stood with her on the sidewalk for a few minutes, speaking to her softly. At one point he removed a business card from his coat pocket, scribbled something on the back of it and pressed the card into her hands. He tapped on the horn and waved to her as we drove away.

    I usually exit the bus from the rear door, whenever possible, but that afternoon I made a point of pushing through the crowd of passengers, towards the front of the bus, and saying "Thank you" to the driver.

    I think he knew I was thanking him for more than a ride home.

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    And last but not least, this year's winner(s) of the Happy Voodoo Panda Toaster Award With An Extra-Dollop-of-*Grooviness-Molecules* On Top:

  • My family in TicTac, especially my mother, my sister, and Daughter #1.  (Or as I refer to them when they're not looking,"The Staff.")

    I would not be getting married two weeks from tomorrow if it weren't for these people. 

    (That's mainly because I would already BE married: David and I would have decided that a wedding was too damn much trouble, and we would have run down to the local courthouse and gotten it over with on our lunch hour.)

    What they're doing, basically, is building my childhood dream for me, layer by layer ... rose petal by rose petal ... painstaking detail by painstaking detail.

    And they're doing it from a distance of 1,000 miles.

    That's the sort of *grooviness,* my friends, that money can't buy.

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Have a great weekend, everybody!

one year ago: revelling in the mundane
one year ago tomorrow: the first annual happy voodoo panda toaster awards

throw a rock