Monday, December 5, 2016

Doin' the wave

Why do we make the same gesture when we approach friends that we make when we leave them?

We wave with our hands up high, palm extended toward the person to whom we draw near. In the movies, this takes place in a crowded airport or train station, and of course the other person sees you right away, instead of being occupied staring at the candy machine, trying to figure which flavor of LifeSavers to get.  No, they see you, give a little wave back, and then, in a trice, the two of you are hugging or exchanging spy information with an undercover agent or shaking hands and heading down to get a cheese sandwich for lunch.

I watch too many old movies on TCM.  I mean it.

Image result for cat o nine tails
Cat o'nine tails
Anyway, I got to thinking about waving and shaking hands and all that, and it turns out that both of them came from the desire to tell the person you were meeting that you didn't have a gun or sword or a cat o' nine tails or herpes. A hand waving freely in the air means you couldn't have anything in...that hand.  

These ancient customs don't have to be accurate, just ancient.

Along the same lines, how about shaking hands?  There is research to indicate that this practice goes back to Greece in the 5th Century BC, and that was long before the discovery of the vast lake of whipped alcohol we now call Lake Purell.  

'Tis said that we shake hands in order to show the other person that our hand has no weapons, but, again, the left hand could be hiding who-knows-what all the while. It's odd.  While you're shaking hands to make sure the other person doesn't have an Asian Throwing Star << meant for you in their hand, the hand you're grasping is full of any number of microbial pathogens, and you could wind up with scabies, cooties, or worse.

But at least while you're home getting over the H1N1 virus, at least you know nothing bad was going to happen to you.

This is why I'd rather fist bump!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday rerun: Who's Yer Daddy?

When my father was just a little kid, he was in downtown Baltimore with his dad, and some sort of parade through the streets carried an open car with the President of the United States, Warren Gamaliel Harding, who reached out and shook my dad's hand before hurrying back to the White House to bend his girlfriend over a barrel and show her the fifty states.


(It was in the movie!  Well, it is now!)

You'll usually find Harding's name in any list of the Ten Worst Presidents, although you'll have trouble seeing him at first, as he is hiding behind a Bush.  But enough of that.  The big news about Harding is that, after all these years, it has finally been proven by DNA testing that he fathered a child by a woman not his wife in 1919,before he was president but after he married a woman to whom he had sworn he was sterile, due to a childhood case of the mumps.

I tell you, this guy really covered all the angles.
Nan and
Elizabeth Ann
Nan Britton was a woman from Harding's home town in Ohio. She was never elected to any political office, but she did enjoy many an unsanctified congress with Harding in hotel rooms, lovenests, hideaways, and a White House pantry. She had developed a crush on old Warren and chased him until he caught her.  One of the surefire techniques he employed was writing her 50-page love letters while sitting at his desk on the floor of the US Senate.
All In The Family
But when the child, Elizabeth Ann, was 4, Harding suddenly cashed in all his chips, and Nan and her daughter, who had been taken care of financially by the president, suddenly were out in the cold, a relocation that forced Nan to write a scandalous book to raise money.

The book, entitled "Fifty Shades Of Grey" "The President's Daughter" caused quite a little scandal when it was published in 1927, the height of the Roaring Twenties.  People in the Harding family suffered pulled muscles and sprains as they broke their necks to deny the truth of the child's provenance, but there was no DNA testing in those days.  Although, one look at the wide face and hooded brow of young Elizabeth Ann, and you just know  you've seen that face before.  On the president.

It was the Harding family who recently put it out there for the testing company Ancestry DNA to answer the question once and for all, and tests were done on two Harding descendants and Nan's grandson.

Boom. Nan is vindicated. Although she died in 1991, the truth lives forever.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, December 3, 2016

I note the huge popularity of adult coloring books, and here is my gift to you. Just print this out and go to town! Then, when you get back from town, grab your colored pencils and color it in.
Test drive complete, this car shopper is ready to sign a four-year lease on a Lincoln.
The moon has a house, like all the rest of us.

I was never a fan of Dr Seuss but there is nothing dorky about black eyeglass frames, right, Buddy Holly?
Let's hope this is the one and only time we see a Hipster Manger.
This is the rare bear, offspring of the natural congress of a polar bear and a grizzly bear. They call him a "grolar."  I didn't even know there was a place for polar and grizzly bears to meet. Probably, it's one of those new apps that allowed them to hook up.
For extra holiday fun, print this picture and take it with you to your local McDonald's, order a Big Mac, and then compare what they slide across the countertop to you with what you have pictured.  Ask the manager why the two don't look much alike.
We all want to try on another's shoes now and then.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chow down

Two big bits of news from the world of food, a world where we all dwell, this week...

On the upper end of the food spectrum was the news that America's Next Top President and his chief of staff, a man named Reince Preibus, dined in fine style with Mitt "Mitt" Romney, a man who derogated them both loudly for the past several years.  The hatchet was buried, along with garlic soup, frog legs, and diver scallops for appetizers, prime sirloin for Trump and Priebus, and lamb chops with a mushroom bolognese sauce for Romney's vittles. 

All three had chocolate cake for dessert.

(Does anyone else find it to be a little too cute to say "a" mushroom bolognese sauce?  When you're wiping your chin after wolfing down a Big Mac, do you say you're removing "a" special sauce?)

The deal at the joint where these three swells tied on the feedbag - Jean Georges - is, you choose from a selection of prix fixe (French for "way too expensive") menus. The cheapest way to get out of there is the three-course blue-plate special, ticketed at $138 a person. There are also two six-course tasting menus for $218 a person, and a two-course lunch for $58 each.

And that brings us to the sad passing of Michael "Jim" Delligatti, the inventor of the Big Mac (50 cents then, $3.99 today).  He was running a McDonald's in 1967 and one day, it came to him to pile two all-beef patties, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions and special sauce on one colossal sesame-seed-bunned sandwich.

He only lived to be 98, and to the end, he had a Big Mac at least once per week.

TBH, would you rather have a Big Mac, or garlic soup and frog leg?

I knew it!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Love is a clean windshield

It's all because I was lucky enough to marry the most patient, lovely, wise, kind, patient, good-natured, patient, intelligent and patient woman in the world...but I have been married to that angel for 43 years almost, and I think I've learned a thing or two about being married.

Young people about to be married often  come to me for advice have to listen to me going on and on about marriage, how it works best, the little pitfalls to avoid, and so forth.  The fact of the matter is, no amount of advice from anyone really matters very much in an area like this. Advice is good for learning how to carve a turkey, change a tire, plant a tree, refinish that old dresser that Aunt Mabel left you.  Those things are sprints, one-time deals; marriage is a marathon, a series of a million days and all the events that make up those days.

As I so often do during my Speeches To The Young, I'll share a little story with you. I'm Facebook friends with a married couple who really seem to have things going well...both of them work, and his work at this time of year is very busy, so he has been burning both the midnight and the early-morning oil, working all sorts of crazy hours. 

It's also the time of year around here when it's still humid, but it gets chilly overnight, which means frosty windshields on the cars (readers in Southern California, just imagine a frosted beer mug) in the early mornings.  

And the wife goes on Facebook, saying that even as big a rush as he is in to get to the office, he still took time that morning to scrape her car windows so that she wouldn't have to do it herself.

And that's my point for today: marriage is not about giant diamonds and imported luxury cars and trips to the Gilligan Islands.  Not at all!  If that's all it took, the Kardashians would have no show, hot-shot divorce lawyers would be doing taxes and selling real estate from offices over top of beauty salons, and marriage counselors would be looking for other work.

Nope, marriage (or keeping any relationship together for a long time) is not about the grand gesture; it's all about the little things. It's emptying the dryer, it's bringing the other person a cup of tea now and then, it's remembering to put the seat down and keep the litterboxes clean.

It's taking five minutes to clean off the other's windshield, doing it quietly in the pre-dawn hours and going off to work.  

Do something like that every day, both of you, and the years will go by happily.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What's your name?

There was a time that a woman would marry a man (often against the best advice of her friends and his parents) and quit her job and change her name to his and become a full-fledged housewife and that was that.

All good, and it's still done, but there are options. If a woman wants to get married at all, she may change her last name to that of her partner, or not.  Or she may hyphenate the two ("Mrs Cecilia McDonald-Berger").

There used to be this weird thing in which married women were known by their husband's full name, as in "Mrs Drew P. Weiner," which made no sense to me.  "Mrs Otis Campbell"?  A woman named Otis?

I have seen married couples in which a man will take his wife's surname, and same-ex couples who exchange last names.  All cool with me.

I bring all this up to say that there is still mumbling going on about the woman formerly known as Amal Alamuddin, a 38-year-old British-Lebanese woman who is a lawyer, activist, and author, universally respected as a force for good and an expert in several fields.

She also happens to be a married woman, who married an American actor named George Clooney.

And people are losing their grips because she wishes to be known as Amal Clooney. That's how she is listed on the website for Doughty Street Chambers, the London-based law firm by which she is employed. 

"But she's a femininist!" came the cry, and I say that being a feminist is more about allowing women to choose to do what's best for them than following some vague list of rules and regulations.

Amal and Geo. were married in Venice, and own a 17th-century manor on the River Thames in the British countryside, so it's safe to say they know their ways around the world and did not just ride into Tulsa on a turnip truck.

George Clooney is most famous for his starring roles in "Ocean's 12", "Ocean's 13", and "Ocean's 127" (coming to theaters near you in 2028). No, seriously, he is a fine actor, with lots of good movies and even more worthwhile statements on the world as we know it.

Read the list of Amal Clooney's educational and professional accomplishments, her awards, honors and appointments here. By any measure, she is a woman of great stature in the world.

And here is the list of all the people in the world who should have any say in the matter of what Amal Clooney's name should be:

1. Amal Clooney

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

No shoes, no pants, no service (but maybe he'll serve time!)

Everyone loves pizza. Really!  I can't think of anyone who says they don't, since there are 382 varieties available, with vegan crusts and fake cheese and artichoke toppings for the health conscious, and with real crusts and saucy sauce and a veritable mountain of gooey cheese and pepperoni for us goo gourmands, and everything in between.  There's a new place near us where you proceed through a line and specify your type of crust and sauce and cheese and toppings and then by the time you find a seat, they're bringing your bubbly pie out to you.

And, if you're ever lucky enough to meet a person who has worked as a pizza delivery person for any length of time, just ask them if they ever met any interesting people in that endeavor. Then, look around for a chair, because you are going to hear some stories!

But the pizza story that has had our town abuzz of late has been the saga of Naked Pizza Guy.  A chain pizzeria called Slice of New York in Towson was recently burgled, and when the owner went through the surveillance video, he found that the thief had gained entrance through a roof vent.

As the bad man slid down the chimney (ho ho ho!) he snagged his sweatpants, and removed them when he got to work stealing. There he was on the videos, running around prying into the pizza shop's property without benefit of proper garmentry.  He took no money (there was none to take) so he did $3,000 in damage just to be a stinker.

The police and the pizza people put the still photos on line, hoping that someone would recognize the crook, but eventually, a look at the images from the outside surveillance camera picked up pictures of a vehicle and its tag number, and that seems to have led the police to a Rosedale man now charged with second-degree burglary and related charges, and free on $50,000 bail.

Right after the crime, the owner offered free eats for life to anyone who could come forward and ID the perpetrator, an offer now amended to sliding free slices of pizza to police for the month of December.  

The only hitch is, the police must be wearing clothes to receive their free lunch.