Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sunday Rerun: The President Takes His Lunch

I've never been to this restaurant called Charmington's, but like most everything else in this life, it reminds me of The Simpsons, in whose hometown of Springfield, the expensive department store is Costington's (slogan: "Over a century without a slogan.")

The Simpsons do their shopping at the Try 'N' Save, or the Kwik-E-Mart.

Charmington's is in the area of Baltimore where Charles Village meets Remington. If you're not from Baltimore, you will need to understand one thing about us...we are defined by our high schools and our neighborhoods.  You have to keep up with things, because one minute, a neighborhood is known as "hardscrabble" and "tough working class," and then then next minute, someone opens a coffee bar in a space once occupied by a TV repair shop, and someone else rips the cheesy 70's paneling from the wall in their living room, finds an original brick wall, and runs to the porch to hang a sign indicating that herbal cough drops and smudge sticks are for sale within.  And boom, here come the hipsters! And in another part of town where once dwelled the upwardly mobile and the Buick drivers, "Cash for your gold" shops and laundromats suddenly sprout.  In other words, we change.

So, back to the restaurant, the president of the United States came there for lunch last week, on a day when he came to Baltimore to talk about the need for fair sick leave for all.  At this time of the year with the flu reaching epidemic levels, people are told, "If you're sick, stay home from work," but many people don't get paid sick time, and would have trouble explaining to their children that they don't get to eat next week because Daddy or Mommy was ill last week.

The owners of Charmington's have had a progressive policy about sick leave for employees, so the commander in chief came for lunch, and ordered a roasted beet salad (but he asked them to hold the beets), a turkey-avocado wrap, and a roast beef and cheddar sandwich on white (he took half of that with him.)  He picked up the tab for others at his table, to the tune of $60 in all, and left a $30 tip.

The food was prepared under the watchful eye of a Secret Service person, and those seated in the restaurant were given the opportunity to leave before he arrived if they wanted, but once he arrived, they had to stay until he split.

There were no reports of the Secret Service being involved in either hi-jinx or shenanigans, for once.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show. October 19, 2019

In the real-estate ads, they always call a place like this "a handyman's special" or a "Fixer-upper." You don't want to be standing there if a stiff breeze comes along.
The message gets through, after a second.
We've all heard about "the hot seat."  Finally, we see what it looks like.
Here's an odd building, one that was meant to look like this: It's one of the buildings at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, in Las Vegas.
Homeowners's tip: don't paint or put siding on the outside of the manse...let nature cover it in vines! It's free, if you don't mind waiting.
The term Potemkin Village dates back to Russia in 1783, when a man named Potemkin was wooing Catherine the Great, and wished to show her wonderful vistas on her way to visit Crimea. So he had fake house fronts built and directed the local peasants to get all duded up and wave happily at the Tsarina as she sleighed on by. To this day, when people put up false fronts, be they actual like this above in Sweden, or when their egos put up phony constructs meant to make us think they really have it all going on, we call it a Potemkin Village and we view it with great disdain.
They used to build that Best & Co stores like this, with crumbling facades and so on. This is a building in Milan, Italy, with a little bit of whimsy.
Here you go...if you haven't settled on a getup for Halloween this year, there's still time to be Lt. Dan and Forrest! ("I KNOW that, Gump!")

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Problems roll on

When they started talking about "Brexit" over in Great Britain, I got confused and thought they meant "Weetabix," the cereal that is high on whole grains and low on taste.

But No! Brexit is this deal that they have agreed to over there, to leave the European Common Market (BRitish EXIT) that was all figured out by the English version of our adipose president, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Call him "Boris."

I'll tell you this right now, if my middle name were "de Pfeffel," I'd be working on an exit from that, I wanna tell ya.

But there are many things to be figured out before October 31, which is when Brexit is supposed to take effect.

For one thing, there is no deal in place to guarantee that items can be shipped into and out of Merrie Olde Englande. This means food and clothing and cars and fuel and those plaid Andy Capp caps so popular over there.

And now comes word that they are worried about running out of toilet paper! Jonathan Edwards, a Member of Parliament (and probably not the Jonathan Edwards who had a #4 hit with "Sunshine" in 1972) mentioned, on the floor of Parliament, and probably in the mens' room as well, that he was concerned about running out of "loo roll."

So he asked the government ministers in charge of such things for a guarantee that he would have enough Charmin to go around, and here is the answer from Cabinet Office minister Simon Hart: "The government would prefer to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal. If this is not possible we will have to leave with no-deal."

It's almost impossible to argue against that. "Either we'll have a deal, or if we don't, then we won't have a deal."

But, Hart also vowed that the government would "prioritize the flow of goods."

So there's that. Deal or no deal, there will be a flow.

There's also the matter of bread and milk to consider, with winter coming on.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The late shift

I remember being 20 and hearing people say, "Life begins at 40."

And then I turned 40, and realized that life began 40 years ago.

I've come to realize that we all decide just when we're going to start living as we should. As someone very wise once asked, "If you're not happy now, when do you plan to be?"

Sad to say, some people schlump along and wait for the end to come, and some make the most of every day. It's up to us all to choose.

But in case you live to be 101 (and so far, so good!) you might want to take inspiration from Rose Landin. She's 101, and still working.

I don't think she's on the job 365 days a year, but she does work every day that the Texas State Fair is open. This year they threw the gates open on September 27 and they'll close the corrals on October 20, so that's a fair stretch of time for someone who's seen 38,365 sunrises and sunsets.

Rose has been doing this shift for 25 years - Monday through Friday, she's a greeter at the hospitality center. She hands out maps and helps people find their way to favorite attractions.

"I feel wonderful because I feel like I'm doing something. Staying at home is not fun when you retire," Landin told her local news station. "[People] always ask, 'How old are you?' I say, 'You're not supposed to ask a woman that,'" she joked.

(I will interject this: you may ask a man his age any time you wish, and staying at home is a LOT of fun when you retire if you have a fun house!)

Ms Landin says that she's been a fairgoer all her life, and used to enter her needlepoint work - Christmas stockings to be exact - for the awards.

"I get up in the morning and I'm happy," she said. "I live for one day, one day at a time. I've enjoyed every minute of it and I hope I enjoy it for 100 more years."

She also told the news, "This year we have a lot of young people [working], which is wonderful," although I have to add that at 101, everyone in the world is younger than she.

Always something interesting down there, deep in the heart of...

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

I mean, we knew she was Desperate, but come on...

A few numbers for you:

  • $1,000,000 -  the bail paid by actress Lori Loughlin to keep out of jail awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and conspiracy in the scheme in which rich people paid to get their kids in good colleges in which they do not belong.
  • $30,000 - the fine that actress Felicity Huffman will have to pay when she finishes her federal prison term, which will last
  • 14 days and will be followed by
  • 250 hours of community service.
  • 40 miles east of San Francisco, which is the location of the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, the country club slammer where the formerly respected actress will cool her heels for 
  • 2 weeks.
  • 1420 out of a possible 1600 is the score on the PSAT test that Huffman's daughter took, after it was doctored by someone to whom Huffman paid
  • $15,000 to add
  • 400 points to her child's previous score of 1020/1600.
  • 56 is the age of Felicity Huffman as she entered prison yesterday.
  • 56 will be her age when she is released in
  • 336 hours.
  •  77806-112 is the federal prison inmate number for Felicity Huffman
  • 0 is the amount of respect I have for her and Loughlin and anyone else who thinks their money entitles them to a place at the head of a line in which they don't even belong.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nuts to you

We had a walnut tree outside when I was a kid and every fall I had a shell of a time opening those bad boys up, but it was worth it.

I never thought to count how many nuts there were on the ground from year to year, but maybe that would have been a good idea for the Persics, Chris and Holly, a couple from Pittsburgh.

They have a walnut tree, and last week, they got to noticing that there seemed to be fewer walnuts on the ground, but as they say on TV, wait til you hear where the nuts went!

Holly was driving her KIA SUV the other day and noticed a funny smell coming from under the a fresh walnut pie. Sure enough, she popped the hood and there were 200 nuts and enough grass clippings to make a nice little nest for Sammy Squirrel and his family.

"They were everywhere, under the battery, near the radiator fan," Chris said. "The walnuts on the engine block were black and smelt like they were definitely roasting."

They had the car inspected in September, but then the walnuts started falling, so, as Chris said, "The squirrels worked pretty fast!"

It took an hour to de-nut the car and take it a shop, where a mechanic removed a plate beneath the motor and found more you know what.

All told, there were enough walnut to fill half a trash can, and the grass was damp (they have had rain in Pittsburgh!) which at least prevented a fire, they figure.

Chris Persic told the news that he's getting messages from other people who park outside, saying they have taken up the habit of checking things out, and he he agrees....

"Long story short, if you park outside, do yourself a favor and check under the hood every once in awhile," Chris wrote on Facebook.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Scrunchy crunch

I love reading websites such as Good Morning America and the other news shows, so I can keep up with the latest news about the impending impeachment, the murder of a key witness in the Amber Guyger case, our brilliant plan to abandon our Kurdish allies by allowing Turkish forces to crawl into Syria, and what's happening with all those scrunchies in middle school.

The morning news offered full coverage of this trend. The latest little gift that middle schoolers are giving to each other is their hair scrunchy.

Used to be, guys would give girls their varsity sweater or a special ring from Kresge's or a mix tape of favorite Backstreet Boys hit, and the girls would give boys their circle pin or the brownies they baked in Home Ec or a paper heart made from gum wrappers.

Now, the girls give guys their scrunchies, and the guys wear the scrunchies on their wrists until their mothers find them in the laundry (the scrunchies, not the guys) and everyone is puzzled.

A woman named Emily Covington facebooked a PSA about this, and it has, as they say, gone viral.

"One week there were all these scrunchies in the dryer," Covington told "GMA." "The first batch, I didn't think anything of it, and tossed them in the trash thinking it was a fluke or maybe even mine that I forgot."

Her son let her in on the fad, and now the entire nation is hung up on scrunchies.

"It sounds harmless," Covington said, adding that all the moms she's connected with from around the country agree. "But I guess if a boy likes a girl, he gives her his hoodie. I told my son he better be careful 'cause I'm not buying him any new ones and it could be a very cold winter."

Here at the Lazy 'C' Ranch, our cats love to play with those little elastic hair rings, which we buy by the dozen at the Dollar Tree, and when we run out, I just slide a yardstick under the oven or bookshelves and come out with about 27 of them.

But those are cats! Kids have the scrunchies to themselves.

Next month, it'll be something else, you may be sure.

Sunday Rerun: "Yonder lies the castle of my faddah."

And on Thursday, we awoke to this:
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Thu, September 30, 2010 -- 6:31 AM ET
Tony Curtis, Hollywood Icon, Dies at 85, The A.P. Reports

Tony Curtis, a classically handsome movie star who earned an
Oscar nomination as an escaped convict in Stanley Kramer's
1958 movie "The Defiant Ones," but whose public preferred him in comic roles in films like "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and
"The Great Race" (1965), died Wednesday of a cardiac arrest
in his Las Vegas area home. He was 85.

As a performer, Mr. Curtis drew first and foremost on his
startlingly good looks. With his dark, curly hair, worn in a
sculptural style later imitated by Elvis Presley, and plucked
eyebrows framing pale blue eyes and wide, full lips, Mr.
Curtis embodied a new kind of feminized male beauty that came into vogue in the early 1950s.

His birth name was Bernard Schwartz.  Today, of course, he would act under the name "Bernie Schwartz" and no one would think he ought to change it.  In the 50s, most of the famous and semi-famous in show biz changed their names, which is why Art Gelien became Tab Hunter.

You really have to wonder.  If the agents and muckety-mucks thought that people wouldn't cotton to the name "Art" for an actor, what the heck kind of a name is "Tab"?  Have you ever met a guy named Tab? Of course not.

"Chad Everett"?  Raymon Lee Cramton.
"Guy Madison"?  Robert Ozell Moseley.
"Rock Hudson"? Roy Fitzgerald.
"Rory Calhoun"? Francis Timothy McCown.  At first his agent changed his name to Troy Donahue, but later settled on calling McCown 'Calhoun'  and saved the Donahue moniker for Merle Johnson, Jr.
"Troy Donahue"?  Merle Johnson, Jr.  (but you knew that.)

In post-World War II America, it seemed that the nation couldn't get enough un-reality.  We turned to movies and television shows that showed a completely artificial view of society, starring people who really couldn't act but had names that sounded actor-ish.  Billy Gray, who played Bud in the sitcom "Father Knows Best," always told people "YOU know best!" and urged them not to take his show as being anything like real life.

We miss the sweet simple 50's, but right now, I have to go to the courthouse to change my name to Ramp Driver.