Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update on Ms Pancake

Well, for those thousands out there who've been following my new friend code-named Miss Pancake and her attempts to end a relationship that started out as a friendship and really should have stayed that way, here is the latest.

I saw her today and she was fairly dancing about on air, proclaiming, "I'm a free woman! Yes!!!!!!!!"

Turns out that last week when she finally got his attention long enough to tell him it was over, Katie bar the door, 168 pages of Dear John (not their real names, just quoting a song) he stood dumbfounded and actually said, "You mean you're breaking up with me?"

And she said uh-huh.

And he followed that up with "So are we still going out this weekend?"

And "Can I still call you?"

Now, you gotta figure, maybe he was playing it like Milton in "Office Space," the guy who was laid off but kept showing up for work for years anyway. I mean it is theoretically possible to have someone give you the gate but you just keep showing up at their house, and maybe they would say, oh what the hell, and let you back in.

Miss Pancake has a whole wonderful world ahead of her, and she is working to achieve her goals, and she does not need these games or even have time to play them anyway.

Of course, she said that he keeps texting her and calling her and now she is down to the last final BandAid to be yanked - going to his house to Retrieve Her Stuff. There really ought to be a formal etiquette for this move. It would be nice if he would say, "I will be out on Friday from 3 - 5 PM; please come by and get your things, and I wish you a world full of love, success and happiness."

Of course, it would also be nice if the Maryland Lottery decided to pay huge sums to a guy who never buys lottery tickets, just to show how fair they are, and I could be the guy, but that doesn't look too likely either.

Mr Ex in this situation needs to play it cool. Sorry, buddy boy, but love doesn't always come out equal when it ends. Be a big man and step aside graciously. It's good karma, it leaves a pleasant memory, and it definitely says you're mature enough to deal with the truth.

And to other friends out there who might be thinking about taking their relationship past friends to dating status, think it over. It's been my happy experience to fall in love once, and it does not happen gradually with someone that you meet for a latte once a week. The thunderbolt of love knows where to strike - and when. Be grounded!

Extra - News grammar error of the week! This week's winner is Crime and Justice Reporter Steve Levine of FOX45, who wins the Bloopie for the following sentence:
"The woman was informed that her child had been beaten at Berkshire Elementary School by school officials."

Man! Those school officials really play tough down there. Reminds me of the classic line from the "Police Squad" tv show, only that was fiction...about a kidnapping...

Sgt. Frank Drebin: "Was there a ransom note?"

Capt. Ed Hocken: "Yes. They tied it to a window and threw it into the rock garden."

FD: "Where's the note now?"

EH: "We gave it to the boys in the crime lab...they're asking for a million dollars."

FD: "Why would the boys in the lab ask for a million dollars?"

Monday, March 30, 2009


Things I wonder about:

I don't play golf, because that windmill always drove me crazy and on the last hole, the ball always went down this big gopher hole and I didn't get it back. But every time I turn our TV on to channel 3, it's the Golf Channel, and as likely as not, some golfer is missing a five-foot putt. Is this the First-Time
Amateur Golf Channel?

And yes, I do have a thing about golf. I wonder how a baseball player is ok standing there 60'6" away from a guy on a hill who is going to throw a small white ball at him at a speed of 80-100 mph while 30,000 people scream their lungs out and cameras are trained on the action at the mound and at the plate and lightbulbs are flashing and the crowd is eddying and Eddie is crowding - while over on channel 3, a man dressed to go to TGIFridays right after this putt is leaning over the ball, which rests 2 feet from the cup, and he studies the lie of the land and consults topographic charts and his caddy brings out an anemometer to check the windspeed and then - at long last! eventually! the great man leans over with his putter in his hand (!) and the crowd is hushed! silence reigns! all coughing suppressed, no sneezing, only the very shallowest of breaths are inhaled and then, when a stillness unseen since that Friday at Appomattox descends upon the multitudes, the golfer taps the ball and it veers off six inches from the cup.

I would also like to know why, with the exception of the greatest meteorologist in the world,
so many people delivering the weather to us on TV talk about the high "tempacher" for tomorrow. It doesn't take that much longer to say tem-per-ature.

And let's slow down when we come to talk about upper resp-ir-atory infections, too. All winter long, even on commercials, I have heard people talking about problems of the "respitory" system.

And, in case this question comes up on the 2010 Census, my favorite tv commercial is still the one where the guy drops his Cialis and then two seconds later his kids drop off the grandkids for the weekend. In real life, you know he would have hidden in the garage and faked like no one was home.

Last November, I was in line at the polls for so long before I got to the voting booth, I was afraid I was going to have to call my doctor and report that I had experienced an election lasting over four hours. I live for such moments.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient,Cheerful, etc etc

The other day I was cranking about foolish and lethal behavior on the part of some fellow citizens.

Yesterday was Boy Scout mulch day in our town and I feel better.

Every year in mid February, we get a sure sign of spring, even more accurate than baseball managers' spring training predictions of diamond glory for some rawboned (how can anyone be 'rawboned'?) kid pitcher out of Oklahoma or a hotshot shortstop from San Pedro de Macoris. The Boy Scouts drop off the flyer with the prices of mulch for their annual sale. This year, 5 bucks a bag, 50 cents more to deliver.

We always need 10 bags. 4 for the shrubbery around the front of the house, 5 to spread among the various trees under whose shade I will sit and sip my lemonade, and 1 to tear and spill all over the driveway. 50 semolians, and we can mulchify to our heart's content, the first dry sunny day we get.

Now is it worth five more bucks to deliver it? Yes! I'm glad to pay that, so I can sit here watching the Today Show, absentmindedly chewing on my homemade oatmeal muffin, and waiting for the truck to arrive. It beats driving down to the church and picking it up myself.

So they get here, and I open the garage door and offer to help hump the shredded tree bark inside, and the Scout looks at me in the time-honored fashion of Scouts since Baden-Powell tied his first knot and says, "Aww, that's alright, mister. We'll do it."

The money goes to their account so they can go on Scout camping trips this summer. Things have a way of evening out over a week. Kids in Fargo are sandbagging like beavers building dams, trying to save their city. Kids in my town are selling mulch, raising money to go to summer camp.

Things even out. Go on, Boy Scouts. Be Prepared.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gimme a minute

I enjoyed the exchange between the president and the CNN reporter at the press conference the other night. The journalist, looking for inaction where instead there was only wisdom, asked how did it come that the president, upon hearing the news of the AIG bonuses, did not issue forth from the Oval Office with his hands waving frantically, shouting out his disgust/surprise/shock! shock! to find ill-advised shellouts taking place here. Maybe he was thinking of the cost of the bonuses vis-a-vis the daily cost of the insane wars we wage.

"I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak," said our wonderful new leader, in what could only be regarded as a stinging rebuke to his predecessor, a poorly-informed and verbally maladroit parrot on the shoulder of a Dick.

Dick Cheney.

Not to compare myself with Obama in any way, but I know where he is on this issue. I am frequently upbraided for not blurting out answers or replies with 1.7 seconds of being spoken to. In person, I get the furrowed brow, shifted hip, tilted head, upraised palms and "welllllllllllllllllllllllllllll?"

On the phone, if I dare to stop and think before speaking, I hear, "Are you still there?"

No. I just decided to hang up without another word. Like BaBa Booey, I often "need more time to think."

And I remember this old quatrain - written either by Keats or Edgar A. Guest, don't know for sure...

"Be careful of the words you say
Keep the short and sweet.
You never know from day to day
which ones you'll have to eat."

Come to think of it, that might have been written by Nipsey Russell. But let me think about it; I'll get back to you.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So THAT'S what his problem is!

from Wikipedia: (because I'm not clever enough to make this up!)
Stendhal syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly 'beautiful' or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world. It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal (pseudonym of Henri-Marie Beyle), who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio. Although there are many descriptions of people becoming dizzy and fainting while taking in Florentine art, especially at the Uffizi, dating from the early 19th century on, the syndrome was only named in 1979, when it was described by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini, who observed and described more than 100 similar cases among tourists and visitors in Florence. The syndrome was first diagnosed in 1982[citation needed]. The term is often used when describing the reactions of audiences to music of the Romantic period.

Sorry, but the following persons, places, things or concepts will cause me to be overcome , resulting in disorientation, dizziness, palpitations, and sweating, with symptoms lasting two to eight days...

Peggy, Britney Spears, Alexis Grace, the new prosecutor on Law & Order, a whole-wheat crust veggie pizza with the lo-fat cheese melted just ever so, a really well-constructed BLT, TBS, CNN, The Simpsons, Family Guy, the music of Elvis, the wit and wisdom of Keith Olbermann, walking around Harford Mall, Mila Kunis, The New Yorker, the smell of Old Bay seasoning, the taste of Old Bay seasoning, a look of love from a little child, walking the bayside Promenade at Havre de Grace, poems by John Updike, novels by Jack Kerouac, nonfiction by Tom Wolfe, my cheap fake iPod, the first ten minutes of "Wedding Crashers", giving gifts, riding around looking at Christmas lights, diner food, the music of LOVE, Daedalus Books, my cup of coffee after dinner, visiting Williamsburg, dinner by candlelight, the very concept of Kid Rock, my old skool country, Ring Lardner and Jennifer Love Hewitt. And Peggy some more.

Oh well, now, at least there's a name for it!

"I'm gonna be silly for a while"!
"OK, I guess it's that doggone Stendahl Syndrome actin' up again!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Off the Deep End

This started out to be one of those posts in which I list a smattering of the manifold reasons to be sure that America has gone completely off the deep end. Let's see where it winds up.

This woman, Nadya Suleman, has arranged to bring forth onto this continent 14 more babies, with help from someone who went all the way through medical school. Instead of getting the emotional assistance she so clearly requires, she is now a fixture on the nightly entertainment tv shows, replacing the late Princess Di and Anna Nicole Smith. She's even been dubbed with the amusing sobriquet "OctoMom," and she would so pleased to hear that you think she greatly resembles Angelina Jolie.

The recent Rihanna/Chris Brown unpleasantness still is aboil in many hearts. Oprah broke her neck to butt into it all, warning (wisely) that "he'll do it again." Polls of teenagers, the group from which those two entertainers draw the vast lion's share of their fans, show an unbelievable tendency for young people - male and female - to blame the female victim of couple violence because "she was asking for it." Now comes the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, claiming that the result of the feminist movement is that attitude that women sometimes deserve to be brutally beaten by men. After all, says Ms Lopez, the feminist movement made women masculine and men feminine, and therefore Chris Brown just had to lay the smack down, she posits, in the magazine launched by jut-jawed pop-eyed madman William F. Buckley.

Crazy? You be the judge. Or at least, the jury.

Fourteen people get onboard a small plane with a load capacity of ten people. The plane crashes.

The crew of a Fed Ex cargo plane, loaded with highly flammable cargo, goes against the advice of Japanese air traffic control and tries to land in Japan during a severe windshear. Crash, burn, two more fatalities.

A man in Oakland, CA, wanted on a warrant and pulled over for a traffic stop, is "afraid of going back to jail, and mad at his parole officer," so he shoots four police officers. This parolee, with a criminal history that would take quite a while for my slow-speed printer to print out, was driving around with an AK-47 assault rifle. The NRA would defend his right to do so. They would stop, of course, at defending his right to shoot four police. They know there is a difference between his 2nd Amendment rights and the 6th Commandment, by cracky. The difference is, arithmetically, four. Four police. One supposes that the gunman was on his way to a meeting of his well-regulated militia when he just had to defend himself on the streets of Oakland. Let's just remember that he might not have been armed if not for the Constitutional vigilance of those NRA people...people whose wisdom infuses the very marrow of our American existence...people such as Charlton Heston and Tom Selleck.

No need to wonder why I keep photos of our greatnieces and greatnephew around. I like to look at them and bask in the warmth of their pure, pure love. Some days, I need it more than others.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy

A fellow resident of Blogolopolis, whom I respect immensely, avers that she will start a non-profit to free The Roots from their current status as the house band on the Jimmy Fallon late-night show on NBC. She has a great idea. There's also the notion to let The Roots play for a solid hour every night and allow Fallon to sit at home and think of something else to do.

I have to say that I expected much better from him. On Saturday Night Live, he was adroit with impersonations, had good comic timing with his lines, seemed affable enough, and played guitar to some of his own songs. But this show he is doing now! Train wreck!

Much has been made of the prediction of Jimmy's eighth-grade classmates that he was the one person in the class Most Likely to Take Over from David Letterman. Well, that was a heavy load to carry around for all these years, and now it looks like they should have voted him Most In Need Of Watching Letterman to See a Pro in Action.

Do you know a guy - and it's always a guy - who wants so desperately to be funny and just isn't? The kind of guy who tells jokes that have the form and function, the rhythm, pacing and syntax of a joke, and then when he's done you realize there was no joke? I worked with a guy once who told the following "humorous" anecdote:

Guy walks into a sub shop and says "Gimme a whole cold cut sub with lettuce, tomato and mayo" and the guy behind the counter says, "You want everything on that, buddy?" and the first guy goes,"If lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise aren't everything, then I don't know what is!"

See? Form was right: set up, poser, punch line. But, like a weekend there in Pittsburgh, there's no there there!

Same way with Fallon. He prances out, all impish, still looking like the suit his mom bought him for college graduation is just a little tight, and he makes with the gags and the punch lines and it just is not funny.

Shame, too. He seemed to have it all going on. Next stop will be playing the wacky neighbor on a sitcom.

And I'm not saying I could do a better job. But I am saying that Gilbert
Gottfried could.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What do you want now?

The Tubes were a rock band out of San Francisco whose main time of importance, as it were, was late 70s - early 80s. Like many people of that era - Ronald Reagan comes to mind - they began as performance artists and later came to express sociopolitical comments through story (Reagan) and song (Tubes).

There was always a bit of an air around this band of being too clever by half. Singer Robert Waldo Waybill changed his first name to "Fee," which apparently made reference to money involved in shipping goods or something. You have to wonder if he ever thought of calling himself Bill Of Sale. But I wouldn't wonder about it for very long.

Did you do that thing at the end of a school year where you wrote a letter to the "you" of ten years from the date of the letter, expressing your hopes, dreams and goals? Neither did I. But I know some people who did, and the deal was, you would save the letter in your sock drawer along with the Award of Completion you got for Driver's Ed and the Presidential Physical Fitness patch that came along with doing enough situps. Then, you could open the letter and see how things were working out in the life that the 17-year-old You sketched out that long-ago afternoon. And I would bet that things were better than You thought!

For those who didn't carry out the assignment to write that letter because it was a lovely spring day and you and Tom and Sam and Bill and Tex all piled into Tex's car and went for a self-created field trip to the Battlefields of Gettysburg, Waybill and friends were kind enough to create a song that could serve as a checklist of man's basic desires. "What Do You Want From Life?" was one of their big performance pieces, never a radio hit, but the video showing people doing all sorts of madcap zany antics was in heavy rotation in the early days of MTV when MTV showed videos, usually all of which featured people doing all sorts of madcap zany antics. Or Debbie Gibson.

What do you want from life?

To kidnap an heiress or threaten her with a knife

What do you want from life?

To get cable TV and watch it every night
There you sit

a lump in your chair

Where do you sleep and what do you wear when you're sleeping
What do you want from life?

an Indian guru to show you the inner light

What do you want from life?

a meaningless love affair with a girl that you met tonight
How can you tell when you're doin' alright?

Does your bank account swell

while you're dreaming at night?

How do know when you're really in love?

Do violins play when you're touching the one that you're loving?

What do you want from life?

Someone to love and somebody that you can trust

What do you want from life?

To try and be happy while you do the nasty things you must

Well, you can't have that, but if you're an American citizen you are entitled to:a heated kidney shaped pool, a microwave oven--don't watch the food cook, a Dyna-Gym--I'll personally demonstrate it in the privacy of your own home, a king-size Titanic unsinkable Molly Brown waterbed with polybendum, a foolproof plan and an airtight alibi, real simulated Indian jewelry, a Gucci shoetree,a year's supply of antibiotics, a personally autographed picture of Randy Mantooth and Bob Dylan's new unlisted phone number,a beautifully restored 3rd Reich swizzle stick,Rosemary's baby,a dream date in kneepads with Paul Williams, a new Matador, a new mastodon, a Maverick, a Mustang, a Montego, a Merc Montclair, a Mark IV, a meteor, a Mercedes, an MG, or a Malibu, a Mort Moriarty, a Maserati, a Mack truck,a Mazda, a new Monza, or a moped, a Winnebago--Hell, a herd of Winnebagoes... we're giving 'em away...or how about a McCulloch chainsaw, a Las Vegas wedding, a Mexican divorce, a solid gold Kama Sutra coffee pot, or a baby's arm holding an apple?

So how did you do? I can't say that I kidnaped an heiress, let alone threaten anyone with a knife, but that cable TV dream has come true for most of us, even though you could have 1247 channels and still wait for days to see a Tubes video.

Still, have faith. At long last, history buffs moved the original Squad 51 vehicle from the "Emergency!" tv show into its rightful place in the Smithsonian Museum, and none other than Mr Randolph Mantooth was there to drive that vehicle across the country, stopping at firehouses, 911 Centers and other emergency! type places every 10 feet along the way. I have friends at 911 who posed with the great man and got autographed pictures of him!
Dreams and goals. Set 'em and forget 'em and look back later - more of them probably came true than you would have thought possible!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I saw the young lady with the sad task of letting her boyfriend down today and she is still all torn up about it, some two weeks later. This, in turn, makes me sad, because she does not deserve the angst that comes along with these touchy breakups. And oh yes, to protect the innocent, she has asked to go by the code name "Pancake."

I would guess that she is just about certain that he is not currently the right man at the right time for her, but he has not taken her initial efforts at easing off the dating relationship very well at all. That's easy to understand. No one likes to face up to the fact that the love they have going on is one-sided, but, dude, face it anyway. It's time to man up and walk away with a little dignity.

I tried to reassure Pancake that this is part of every life - or every life worthwhile. Oh, there may be people out there who have never broken a heart nor had their own shattered like an old 45 record of Joe Tex singing "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)" when it falls out of the record case you bought at Kresge's. You may be one of those people, but I wouldn't feel too fortunate for it. I still say, you need to sample a little bit of everything from the vast Asian Buffet of life...joy and sadness, luck and misfortune, high and low, yin and yang, brown and serve.

I tried to reassure her that the guy will eventually move on. It's only in movies that despondent swains join the French Foreign Legion. He'll find the right woman, who may in fact be she in a couple of years; who knows? All we know is that the "she" of today is not right for the "him" of today.

I tried to reassure her that the only alternative to breaking it off is - staying with him forever and being his reluctant wife and mother to his children.

I tried to reassure her that no one really wants someone who only stays around so as not to break a heart. That is no basis for a relationship.

Once again, I turn to the rich garden of verse from the library of old-skool country music. Freddie Hart and the Heartbeats remind us, "Feeling is believing, and I feel it...and if you can't feel it, it ain't there."

I tried to reassure myself that sweet, kind people should not have to undergo heart-rending pain, but it's in every life, so we're all going to beat on, boats against the current, but instead of being borne back ceaselessly into the past, as Fitzgerald said, we're also rowing our boats confidently into the future.

It's really the only way to go.

Good luck, nice Pancake lady. It'll be all right. It always has been.

Troy who?

Create your own FACEinHOLE

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Butler said it

Yes, it says "click here," but, really, don't, OK? I've been thinking about the non-necessary products for sale to us Americans, and I think this thing tops the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Salad Spinner, the Disc Washer, and - lest we forget - the dog sweater .

First of all, it's clear that dogs are more intelligent than humans. Is anyone willing to argue with that? Ever seen a dog listen to Rush Limbaugh? Do you know of a dog who will drink Dr Pepper six times a day? That accident you saw on the way home from work a couple of weeks ago - was either driver a dog?

It's my belief that nature, by the hand of God, gave each dog exactly the kind of fur he or she would need, thereby obviating the need for this vast dog sweater trade.

And how many dogs do you see flocking ("packing"?) to nail salons to get a manicure/pedicure? None, is the right answer, and also, the answer to "What do you call a dog with a hangnail?" is "there is no need to call him anything because such a dog does not exist!"

Poochie thinks you're silly for buying a machine to file her nails, but she loves you nonetheless because you tuck her chin and rub the back of her melon for hours on end.

Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature.

Samuel Butler
English composer, novelist, & satiric author (1835 - 1902)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thomas Jefferson's Rules for Life

Still worthy of consideration...

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Never trouble others for what you can do yourself

Never spend your money before you have it

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap

Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold

We never repent of having eaten too little

Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly

How much pain have those evils cost us which never happened

Take things always by their smooth handle

When angry, count to ten before you speak - if very angry, a hundred

Friday, March 20, 2009

Senator Blutarsky would have helped!

It's the last of the big time old-fashioned movie theaters in Baltimore, and it seems to be on the last spool of film in this present version.

For years, film lovers have flocked to the Senator Theatre in midtown to see movies on a huge screen in old-time surroundings. I took Peggy there to see Casablanca years ago, because that's one movie that should not be viewed in a little room that reminds you of a high-school classroom where the history teacher puts on a movie with a recreation of the Battle of Gettysburg while he ducks down to the faculty lounge for a quick Camel. And a cigarette, if there's time.

But now, the bank that holds the loan on the place is calling in the mortgage. The monthly nut to operate this landmark is $100,000, and ticket sales don't come close to that, so it looks like goodbye to the Senator.

It seems that it's another case of people loving something with all their heart - but not so much that they would actually go there, part with some money and sit down and watch a movie. Anyone who's seen the news or read a newspaper (speaking of old-style things that are disappearing!) lately knows that the banks are in neither a mood nor a position to be lenient about all this. And yet, the overall box office take for the first couple of months of '09 is breaking records, proving that even in the face of the worst economic crisis the nation has faced since Herbert Hoover roamed the earth, people will still flock to Cinema16 in mall after mall, eagerly handing over 10 bucks to see Kevin James as a real portly unreal policeman.

I guess by the time Hollywood gets around to making a movie about the financial crisis ("Starring John Malkovich as Ben Bernanke...who could know no love like the love he had for money!"), the Senator will already be a storefront church or something. Too bad they didn't think to get in on the Federal bailout, or at least insure their mortgage through AIG.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Buck Shops Here

Out back in the shed, I keep yard stuff and a few items for the very few auto and truck maintenance chores I am qualified to undertake (changing the oil and vacuuming the floor mats seem to be the entire list these days.) Rummaging out there the other day for either duct tape or WD40 - if you have those two items plus a good Arrow stapler, you can handle most any spot repairs - I found an old funnel that I use for pouring oil into the crankcase of the car or truck.

I'm not talking about the price of oil here. It was the price of the funnel that caught my eye. It's so old, it was bought in the day when stores affixed a little gummy sticker bearing the price of an item directly onto the item. Before bar codes and UPC numbers and self-serve checkout stations, this was how they did things. It's interesting to note that I paid $1.69 for this funnel, what, 30 years ago? (It's had more oil poured through it than Halliburton pipelines!) Also interesting that I bought it at a drug store - Drug Fair, to be exact, whose motto was, "Don't say drug store, say Drug Fair: there's a difference!". Drug Fair became Revco, which then became CVS, which will never become the place I would head for when I need to buy a new funnel. That's also a difference.

No, my destination of choice for funnels, books that were just at Barnes and Noble two weeks ago for $24.95, catsup, shower gels and greeting cards is the wonderful Dollar Tree chain. You go there today, and you can have three funnels of varying sizes, nested together and held with a plastic string, for one dollar.

NPR had a story this morning about people who never thought to shop at "the Tree," as we in the know call it, until this economic downturn forced them to stop calling noodles "pasta" and hair goo, "product." We welcome our new friends to the marvelous adventure of strolling down the aisles of the Tree, green basket in hand, happily tossing in one-dollar picture frames and one-dollar foot-itch powder. Nothing's out of date, nothing's stale, nothing's rancid.

To those beginners, though, one caveat: better stop at Try'n'Buy on the way home, and stick with the big-name famous brands of razor blades and toilet paper. You only have one face, and, well.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Importance of Being Ernest

The one musical I will watch is "The Music Man," and a large part of the fun of that story is how Professor Harold Hill charms the "bow-necked Hawkeyes" who are so "Iowa stubborn, they can stand touching noses for a week at a time and never see eye-to-eye."

Comes now the distinguished US Senator from the land of corn, the honorable Charles
Grassley. I'll let FOX News tell you the story, as if you haven't heard if already...

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.

The Republican lawmaker's harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.

"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide.

"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

And remember, folks, this wingnut goes from Iowa to DC to make laws for all of us, and he suggests suicide as a painless way out of this fiscal crisis that his party engendered through their reckless deregulation. Fall on your swords, o ye who would save face!

I dunno, this Grassley reminds me of someone. Know what I mean, Vern?

UPDATE! Late-breaking earth-shattering additional Grassley information. We get this today from Salon:

OK, so Sen. Charles Grassley doesn't really want AIG executives who accept lavish bonuses to "commit suicide," as he suggested in an interview Monday. He walked that order back a few steps on Tuesday.
But the Iowa Republican had some other choice words for the bailed-out insurance giant.
"From my standpoint, it's irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they're sucking the tit of the taxpayer," Grassley explained.

Charles? Perhaps it's better to change topics now. You've clearly said all there is to say about this one in an unforgettable statesmanlike manner.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuxedo Dysfunction

From the wires of the Associated Press:

LEBANON, Ind. (AP) - A Lebanon High School senior is suing the school after her principal said she couldn't wear a tuxedo to the school's prom.

Court filings say the 17-year-old girl, whose name is not revealed in the lawsuit, is a lesbian and doesn't wear dresses because they represent a sexual identity she rejects.

The lawsuit filed yesterday says that the principal told the girl a special dress code for prom requires female students to wear a formal dress.

The lawsuit filed on the girl's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana says that the dress code discriminates based on gender and that because the school receives federal funds, the policy violates federal law.

Lebanon Community school district attorney Kent Frandsen says the school will follow the ruling of the court.

You know what’s funny about this? Besides nothing? I was just thinking about Paul Harvey and then I stumbled across this story and all I could think of is how old Paul would have told that tale…some comment about how people just want to change everything, things ought to stay the way they are, what was good enough for Gramps and Grammy oughta be good enough for today, blah blah blah.

You can take that to another level. What if we just kept all the old policies in place? Let’s do a system reset on American History to, let’s say, 1856. People still literally own other people, people are still ill-fed, ill-clothed and ill-housed, women can’t vote, there are no planes or automobiles…wouldn’t want to go back that far?

All righteeo. 1956. You can’t own slaves, but you can keep people out of public accommodations based on their race, and woe betide you if you fall in love in the wrong way. A woman pregnant and unmarried was just about cast out of the village, forced to move out of town while the family claimed she was under treatment for her asthma or something – or, the ill-prepared young couple was hustled up to the Justice of the Peace, prodded along with a Remington 30.06, right into the vows of matrimony at a time when the most appropriate vow for most of them would have been the Boy Scout Oath or something similar. “Jest as long as that child has a last name, by cracky!” And of course, sometimes it didn’t work out, did it? Isn’t that right, Bristol and Levi?

The old “your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins” doctrine is in full effect here. If this young woman chooses to wear a tuxedo or a flour sack or a knight’s chainmail or a letter carrier’s uniform, tell me how that affects you. I just wish that we could learn to let people do what they think is best for them. If they step off a curb, not seeing an oncoming vehicle, yes, by all means, run out there and push them to safety. But if they step off a curb and you don’t happen to like what they’re wearing, keep it to yourself. MYOGDB.

Mr Shakespeare, you wished to say…?
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
So maybe it would be better to keep our impediments to ourselves!  Unless you can
provide proof that the wearing of a tuxedo by an unnamed young woman out in
the heartland will damage our lives here. OK thanks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

He was the FIRST to say "Ay Caramba!" on TV!

Yesterday was the family party to celebrate the birthday of both my nephew Jay and his lovely wife Jamie, although their birthdays are 6 and 9 days off, respectively.

I'd like to share with you the Cliff's Notes version of what happened on the day Jay was born, March 25, 1977. I was working as a midday DJ at the time, and between a Conway Twitty record and something by Johnny Paycheck, I got a call from Mom saying that my sister had given birth to her second child. This came as no surprise to me, because it was well known that she was, indeed, going to have her second baby. The only question was, when? Mom said the name of the hospital, gave us the visiting hour times and so forth, and I said we'll see you later.

That evening, Peggy and I headed to Towson with the full intent of seeing the little baby. On the way, we passed by a store called Greetings and Readings, a book-card-stationery and novelty store then located right outside Towson. A huge sign out by the road proclaimed "Tonight Only! Desi
Arnaz in person - will autograph copies of his autobiography!"

Well, now, how often does one have the chance to commune with one of the all-time greats of show business? I thought hey, we'll zip in, grab a book, get him to sign it, and be on our way.

Towson in 1977 was not quite the cosmopolitan hub it has now become. Approximately 27,000 people were ahead of us in line. It really started to resemble Woodstock, without the mud, the nakedness, the music and Wavy

Well, all right. Maybe we were #78 and 79 in line, but the line seemed to move very slowly, owing mainly to Mr Arnaz's charming way of holding a conversation with every person who ponied up the price of a book. As the first valuable seconds, minutes and hours of baby Jay's young life ticked off in the relentless march of my Timex
Glo-In-The Dark watch, I became more and more restive, fidgeting about in line so obviously that passers-by became concerned for my well-being. But at last, the sea of humanity parted, and there we were, face to face with the great man himself. He took our book and inscribed on the inside cover "To Mark and Peggy GRACIAS Desi Arnaz" and slid the now-priceless tome back toward me. Time was still on my mind, had to get to the hospital, but then I saw a well-worn fedora by his side and I just had to ask if it were the same hat he wore on the show. He said it was, indeed, and I asked him if he would say those words he said every time he got back to the Mertz's apartment house after working at the Copacabana, doffing his hat as he entered, with Lucy in both an apron and a dither, and he said...

Yes yes yes! It was worth every second of the wait. We thanked the Cuban comedy legend, scooted out, hopped in the car and headed off for the hospital, skirting past people who were all ready to lock up for the night like Rickey Henderson sliding into second. In just a twinkling, we found the maternity ward, and there lay Jay in a little kiddy-cubby as the entire family pressed noses to the glass, waiting for him to do, who knows what? Get up and dance?

But there followed a pithy question-and-answer period, in which the question was "Where have you two been? Visiting hours are over in like 5 minutes!" and the answer was, proudly, "We've been with Desi Arnaz!"

Came this to that:

"Well, if you don't want to tell us where you really were, don't say something silly!"

We still have the book; we proffered it as proof of our valid lateness, and every year at this time, we like to take that book down off the shelf, read aloud the chapter about the first time Desi met Lucy, in the manner of a Yuletide family reading from Dickens, and dance around to his records of "Cuban Pete" and "Babaloo." Desi's records, not Dickens's.

It's a simple life, yet ultimately rewarding, if you just follow the signs.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Still considering

Everyone knows people with what I guess are self-esteem issues, issues that lead them into relationships at best unsatisfying and degrading and at worst physically and emotionally harmful.

I worry about such things, because I would like to have everyone I know be happy and safe. Not gonna happen, I know.

I'm that lucky guy with a one-of-a-kind marriage. I appreciate the fact that I was sent an angel to love, and I just wish the same all around.

But sitting here at 0648 on a drizzly Sunday morning, I hear birds chirping outside. Spring starts Friday. The earth continues to revolve, and I think of Arthur Lee, who said, "Love on earth must be."

I know it takes the skills and education of a therapist to help people with these issues, but for those of us without that skill and expertise, there ought to be a way to help. All I can think of is to show more love.

Like chicken soup, it can't hurt...

Consider this

"We accept the love we think we deserve" True or false. Let's discuss! Comment please!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tearing his heaven all to hell

"We started out as friends, and we were great friends, and then we thought we'd try dating, and now this!!!!!!!," the tall young lady was saying. Dating and romantic problems are right up my alley, all grist for my mill, if you will, because, you see, I used to be a country DJ. So, I've heard so many scenarios, heard the keening of so many hearts. I've heard a guy call in for a dedication to his sweetheart, his lover of many years, the temple within which he had built the altar of his love, upon which he hoisted his inamorata. He wanted to hear "Your Cheatin' Heart."

She's young, maybe 19 or 20, I guess, and I only know her casually, but she seemed to share all this, and I was glad to listen. She is such a sweet girl, and I want to help, if only by listening. Listening costs nothing, and who knows? Now and again, you might just be able to toss an insight, a little shared experience out there, that might help. I hope so. One thing I have learned in such situations is, no matter how clear-cut the proper steps might be to someone who has strutted down life's hallways three times as long as the other person, you just don't want to say,"Here's what you ought to do." It's a better learning and sharing experience when the approach is more like,"You know, I know someone who went through this one time, and here's what (s)he found was a pretty good way to handle it..."

That was the drill. They were friends, and he had this big idea to date, and they had been dating for six months or so, and now he really has it bad.
In story and song, he's rapturously saluting the day in history on which they met, he's talking about the kids they will have, he's planning weddings, honeymoons, furniture for the cozy little love nest they will soon inhabit. He is over-the-moon-in love.

And she is not.

And she feels horrible about it, and has been postponing the inevitable for some time, while she figures out a way to put the guy wise. A gentle way, a poetic way, a way that will restore the happy giddy go-to-the-movies together kind of friendship they once enjoyed and shall again.

Buddy Holly
lyric time:
When you love her and she doesn't love you
You're only learning the game

When she says that you're the only one she'll ever love
Then you find that you are not the one she's thinking of

Feeling so sad and you're all alone and blue
That's when you're learning the game

So everyone goes through it, this thing called Learning the Game. Sinatra called it Learnin' the Blues...ring-a-ding-ding, baby. We've all been through it, or should have been - everyone's been the dumpee; everyone's been the dumper (sometimes without even knowing it!)

My thought was to tell her NOT to go to cliches about how "we can still be friends - great friends! - better than ever, because now the mystery of what it would have been like if we had dated is not hanging over us." He doesn't want to hear that.

Ditto for "It's not you, it's me." (Of course, a grammatically-conscious dumper would say "it's not you, it's I" and then the dumpee would be all "What?" "Who?")

And of course, let's rule out,"At least we tried, and it just didn't work out. Sorry!"

I told her of a friend who handled this by leaving the "you" and "me" out of it entirely, and just pointed out that "we" tried and the levels of attraction just didn't match up.

I hope it works out, for the sake of both of them. Again, she is a very nice young lady, and for the life of her, she does not want to hurt the guy, which is so admirable! It tears me up to see the pain she's in. Twenty, thirty years from now, their eyes might meet in some mall or muffineria or in the big state-operated recharging station where everyone has to go once a month or so for fifteen minutes to recharge their long-range electric cars. This happens all the time, and it's nice when people - such as she is doing - handle it with sensitivity and kindness.

Let's hope they both realize they were important steps for each other in the way of building stronger hearts, not breaking them.

If you've been there, you know what I mean. If you haven't, remember, " 'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Alfred, Lord Tennyson
, 1850.

Or, "I'd rather love and lose you than never know your love at all." Charley
Pride, 1971.

I tell you this, there is no problem on this earth yet to be discussed by either old-school country music or The Simpsons

Friday, March 13, 2009

They don't line up; they form a queue.

Over in England, even the colleges have classy names. So whereas here in America, one might matriculate at Austin Peay or C.W. Post, the English hop on their bikes with their tweed suits and caps on and enroll at Nottingham Trent University.

Maybe I should say they hop on their "double-decker bus" or "tube" (subway), because the researchers at good old Nottingham Trent asked people who commuted to work via public transportation what it was that cheesed them off the most about their ride. They listed lack of space, loud music, delays and obnoxious smells.

How to get past those problems? I mean, what do you do when you're jammed on the Shropshire Ltd. and you can't move an arm or a leg, and some rakehell is blasting music by that hot new group I H8 U in your ear, and the train is held up because there is a loose cow on the tracks, and the guy next to you slept a little late and so did not have time for a shower, but did have time enough to douse himself in Eau de Musk?

#1 answer - sing or talk to yourself. Be the Bing you were meant to be; envision yourself crooning "Where the Blue of the Night Meets the Gold of the Day" before a packed house in some revue.
#2 - plan the day ahead. Most jobs, you can hardly plan your next visit to the restroom without a dozen phone calls and people wandering up to your desk asking for this and that. But, really, go, plan!
#3 - work on the laptop, write or read. But if there's no space, not gonna work.
#4 - "emotion-focused coping." This is defined as venting anger or looking at attractive commuters. I don't recommend venting in a packed, smelly vehicle, and let me state right now that we attractive people are just so sick and tired of being ogled all the time. Ha ha. While I am not attractive, I was considered quite a catch in my day. I got caught by the police, I got caught by teachers, principals, lifeguards...you name it.
#5 - seek counseling. Apparently the British transport system has counselors on public conveyances for the convenience of their anguished riders?
#6 - listen to audio books or music. That would be my way to go.
#7 - chew gum, snack or chat. All at once? And right after breakfast or right before dinner? I don't think it wise. And food is illegal in Baltimore's transit system. Tonight, deep in the holding tanks of our penal system, sit dozens of hardened criminals, all doing time for eating chicken nuggets on the #8.
#8 - smoke or drink alcohol. Hello? What about the obnoxious smell you were just hollering about? And do you know what it's like to talk to someone in close quarters as they guzzle cheap gin?
#9 - meditate or pray.

It sounds to me like the English like their party buses, you know what I'm saying to you? Gotta reconsider that trip to see the Whitecliffs...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I kneed your love

Juxtaposed thusly on the lightboard at my orthopedic surgeon's office, these x-rays would seem to show a pair of legs getting ready to do a little soft-shoe...kind of a Jackie Gleason "and awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we goooooooooooooo!" step. But it's two different pictures of the same knee. My left one, as it were. First injured in a ninth-grade football game, it wore down and lost cartilage like Limbaugh loses credulity until 1999, when Dr Jacobs and I decided that I would ring in the new millennium with a total knee replacement.

It's a fairly simple procedure...they cut you open in front from lower thigh to upper calf, then they saw through the bone above and below the knee, creating a place in the bottom part for the device that sort of looks like a golf tee to be inserted into the marrow, and then the top half is glued to the bone. What you don't see in the x-ray is the thin little piece of plastic that serves as a fake cartilage between the two halves.

The miracles of modern science! Forty years ago, guys such as I were just told, "tough noogies, walk with a limp," but now I can do anything except play basketball or tennis, run long distances and dance at weddings. OK, the first three for sure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Check this out

I was all worked up yesterday about seeing the new library for my area. The old Perry Hall Library branch was a smallish kind of place, not really much bigger than a lot of houses, and the County has been planning and building its replacement for many years. All that hard work paid off majorly; it's a beautiful building with 125,000 books (the old one had 50,000.) I've been a library card holder since I was a kid; it's always been a tremendous thrill to me to be able to ankle into a building and - for free! - borrow books, CDs, DVDs, and I don't know what-all else. For free!

This library has a couple dozen pcs for the public to use, lots of books and books on CD and music CDs and movies on DVD and small group study rooms, a large community meeting room, and a really cool quiet study room with magazines and newspapers and a working fireplace! It's a tad late in the season now to be planning for this, but you watch: a lot of 50+ guys from my area will be hanging around there, warming our naugahydes by the fire and reading. In fact, most of us will.

I have a plan to test things. If someone has a new dictionary, I always look for the word "eleemosynary" (charitable) and if it's in there, the dictionary is complete enough for me. If not, then it's a little skimpy. "Eleemosynary" seems to be the Rubicon separating thorough dictionaries from less-detailed volumes. Same thing with libraries: I look through their catalog, and if they don't have at least a book or two by Ring Lardner
, the great colloquial humorist, then they loaded up too much on Robert Ludlum and Dr Phil. That seemed to be the case here, but all in all, I give our new local library very high grades. Not that many of us are into Ring Lardner these days, it would seem. Maybe I could be so eleemosynary as to donate to them a copy or two of his masterworks.

Discuss: what th' heck ever happened to silence being the word in a library? There were a few people passing through the book area, just gabbling on like we all wanted to hear about their brother-in-law's legal woes, or why their daughter didn't go out for the school play this spring ("Too busy with homework"). I guess that 'silence' concept went out with service station attendants wearing leather bow ties and police-style hats and cleaning your windshield before checking your oil while pumping your Buick Roadmaster full of 28.9 ¢ per gallon gas.

My new plan to is spark big interest in the work of Ring Lardner by telling the neighborhood posse that he invented ringtones
and they named them after him.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'd like to be a clone with you

Nice-looking woman here, you'd say, am I wrong? Pretty smile, well-dressed, well-coiffed...the kind of person you'd like to meet and hang around with, correct?

Except..you can't meet her. Not because she's far away or locked behind castle walls or anything.

You can't meet her because she does not exist. She is no more real than a Republican tax break for the working class.

"Tica," as they call her, is the creation of Blair Art Studios. It took 70 hours to create her by the use of PhotoShop. See the process here and wonder why people do this sort of thing. I guess it's better than cloning people in some Frankenstein-type lab, but geez, it gives me the Willies.

Two of whom are real...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Psyche Out

Well, the big story on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday was the furor among the psychological/psychiatric community as to whether DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) exists or not. This is the malady once known (and still known in some quarters) as Multiple Personality Disorder, or Robin Williams Syndrome.

Doctors in favor of labeling this disorder an official diagnosis point out that it's rarely spotted outside North America. Equally vocal are the doctors on the other side, who point out that the case loads for doctors treating this problem soar right after movies such as "The Three Faces of Eve," "Sybil," and "Revolutionary Road" come out. They also feel that many people presenting at therapists' offices under a state of hysteria are more suggestible than most...so if the doctor says, "Do you have more than one personality, by any chance?" the answer that takes the patient down the hall for much more therapy is a firm "You betcha!"

But, back to those who think it's for the real, they state that they see people with all these people inside of them, and they don't want them there, so whaddya gonna do?

I don't know what the answer is. I'm of two minds about the whole thing.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A lovely neighborhood called Audrey Meadows

Yesterday’s entry used the word “tawdry,” and I had heard the word had an interesting etymology, so what I did was, I looked it up. The story reads like “The Princess Bride,” or something from the Brothers Grimm.

Around 640, there lived an English princess named Ethelreda, better known as Audrey. ( Perhaps she did not wish to be confused with Ethel Mertz.) She married a guy to help her father, King Anna (listen! I’m not making these names up!) but hubby #1 bought the farm within three years, and in all that time, they had never got around to consummating the marriage. Even though she had taken a vow of virginity, she got married again, when her Uncle Ethelwold (!) thought it would be a great idea if she tied the knot with Egfrid, son of King Oswy of Northumberland. Old Egfrid wouldn’t go along with the chastity pledge, being married and everything, and so he started making moves on her, to no avail. He attempted to bribe the local bishop, Saint Wilfrid of York, to release Audrey from her vows. Saint Wilfrid refused, and helped Audrey get away. She fled south, with her husband right on her heels. They reached a promontory known as Colbert's Head
(sorry - wrong picture!) (there it is!) and it was there that suddenly the waters started to rise, and for seven days Egfrid had to cool his own heels in the muddy waters.(I am going to pause here to tell you that this Colbert's Head is near Dover, and to remind you if you ever go to England and have someone ask you if you saw the White Cliffs of Dover upon your return, the only possible answer is "See them? I had dinner with them on Thursday!"). I mean, "E" was only a man, and he wasn‘t going to hang around forever without his connubials, so he took off and married someone with a more conventional view of marriage. Audrey, taking a conventional view herself, moved to a convent, and went on to build an abbey.

Now here’s where the story takes an interesting turn. Audrey was to die of an huge tumor on her neck, and thought this was visited upon her because, in her youth, she liked to wear many necklaces. But, prior to her death, she had become enormously popular in her area, owing to her many good deeds and steadfast faith, so throughout the Middle Ages, a festival, "St. Audrey's Fair", was held in her town of Ely on her feast day. People, as they will, bought all sorts of cheesy merchandise at these fairs, and the necklaces and neckerchiefs for sale in her honor were considered low-grade, but still, they were dedicated “to Audrey,” and that became corrupted to the present-day word “tawdry.“

Still no explanation on why her father’s name was Anna. This is all true, I’m telling ya!

Now I’m going to look up why I’ve never met a girl named “Jackie” (or any alternative spelling thereof) who wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun to be around.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tawdry seems to be the hardest word

I just can't get enough of the Republicans kowtowing to this hot air buffoon. First they get an attack of conscience and say the truth about him, and then, sensing that the dittoheads are upset by the truth, they beg for his forgiveness.

If you feel that you may have offended The Great Man or his cat, please go here and find a simple, E-Z to fill-out form. May he cause the light of his exoneration to shine upon you and yours.

Remember, those of you who find him to be a refreshing representative of all that's good and American and right, he is the horse's patootie who claimed that Parkinson's victim Michael J. Fox is either "acting or forgot to take his medicine."

That's vile. That's Rush. You can do better.

And by the way, it's the DEMOCRATIC party. This Republican habit of shortening that reminds me quite a lot of the aristocrats who would deliberately mispronounce the names of the hired help in order to minimize them.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A True Story

This actually happened. I'm 19, and out for a night of carousing with some of my elegant friends, strangers all to the debutante ball circuit, but well known among the taverns of Towson, where the people who checked ID's were not too particular.

So we wind up heading West on this evening, which happened to be Thanksgiving night. One or more of us decided to get out of Joe's Malibu and dampen the ground along Old Court Rd in Ruxton, as a fire prevention measure. Having no buckets of water, we were forced to improvise.

A car or two passed by as we shook hands with the governors, but we were not the sort of guys who stood on ceremony, so we finished with the business at hand (so to speak) and got back into the Malibu, with the probable intent of obtaining more Slim Jims, pickled tomatoes, red hot floating brine sausages and suds. The rest of the night is lost in the miasma of history.

Except that on Christmas night that year, my brother-in-law's cousin's husband from New Jersey (sounds like a song by Ray Stevens, does it not?) sidled up to me and says, in the confidential guy-to-guy tone favored by guys everywhere guys congregate, "You know you can't get away with a #*$&@ thing these days..."

Requiring elaboration, I asked for more confidential details, and he said, "I saw you and your buddies peeing on Old Court Rd on Thanksgiving night."

He lived in New Jersey. What th'?