Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Used to Use "Al Catraz" for a Fake Name

This Bernie Madoff thing...his lawyer tells NBC that Madoff should have received leniency because he COULD have taken it on the lam, but instead, he turned himself in. OK, good point, take 5 years off his sentence and make it 145 years of being someone's prison punk. Hope he likes it a lot, and I hope he lives a long long time. Bernie...you see the word "penitent" in "penitentiary"? Dude, you don't know the meaning of how sorry you're gonna be til one day when you're sitting in your cell and a lonesome train whistle blows in the distance, and you feel all wistful because you know there are people on that train going places....to ballgames, off to see kin, to Kansas City to see their girlfriend, back home to Oklahoma, where the wind comes whipping off the plain, and you just have to sit there in your cell and realize you will never have the chance to cheat any of them out of their life's savings.

And that's when you'll cry. Small solace that we in the non-locked-up portion of society will henceforth call your brand of chicanery a "Madoff scheme;" "Ponzi" seems so outdated.

And poor Ruth, your devoted wife, who so nobly surrendered some of your houses (seems like John "I married the beer baron's daughter" McCain has more houses than the Madoffs did) will have to eke out a meager life, subsisting somehow on $125,000 a year. Dios Mio, she may end up selling lavender sachets in the Trailways station to be able to buy a soupbone and boil off a simple gruel for her dinner.

People say, oh, you just hate to see the high and mighty fall down. Not at all. People like this didn't really have very fall to far at all, when you think about it. G'night, Bern...Ruth...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hornet of Plenty

Out on the deck, where stand the grills where I grill all year long, I built a little table with a stainless-steel top, and shelving to hold Rubbermaid tubs. In the Rubbermaid tubs, I have charcoal for those times when I just feel like grillin' it old skool (there's a gas grill for when time is a factor) and all the implements of meat preparation: tongs, spatulas, squirt bottles, basting brushes, aprons, and I don't know what-all else.

For some time, Peggy has been kindly and diplomatically pointing out that the Rubbermaid tubs were looking sort of, well, all beat to hell. After a few gentle prods (148) I finally got some new tubs and brought them home. Today, I went out to make the switch.

I should have known that something was up when, as soon as I started moving the tubs around, some hornets showed up, with unhappy looks on their tiny faces. They were beating their wings in a most unfriendly fashion, zooming in to remind me of their presence and then holding mid-air conferences over by the cupola atop the shed.

They look like this
(shown here one-billionth actual size) and they fly in packs of a thousand or more. Their sting can be lethal unless the victim has recently consumed a can of beer.

Nature boy Mark cleverly deduced that it was time to make a tactical withdrawal and assess the situation. Had I been writing this blog 50 years ago, there would be an entry detailing how I was climbing a tree in a neighbor's yard and stuck my hand in a hornet's nest as I ascended. My descent was rapid, and there was an abrupt end to it when I slammed into the earth, disturbing Mrs Gallup, who was baking a pie or something. She ran out and tended to me, and I have never forgotten the lesson that hornets do not care to have their space invaded by ...me.

I came back from the garage with a can of Raid Garden Mist, and laid down enough haze from that aerosol dispenser to cover me while I reentered the battle zone. I found a hornet's nest under construction in one of the old rotten tubs. Peggy was right! Old cracked beat-up tubs are just an invitation for ne'er-do-wells to set up shop where they ought not.

Everything old is out for the trash; everything new is in place and ready to grill again. But the lesson is learned: do what Peggy tells me the first time! She is always right!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Get the picture?

Yesterday, I had to get a new printer/scanner/copier/toaster/deep fryer for the computer. I think I told you this: Windows Vista is all snobbish and everything, and regarded my 2002-model scanner and printer as being relics of the Pleistocene era, if not earlier.

So we got a new one - birthday gift from Peggy to me - and I go to hook it up and what do I find in place of written, clear, step-by-step instructions? The deadliest form of information to me: the pictograph.

You know what? I think that if all Adam had to go on was a pictograph, you and I never would have been born. I for one need words!

Take fig. "A" here:
this is an instruction sheet - an thumbnail sketch, if you will, from IKEA, showing how a man can upturn a bar stool and trim his thumbnail, using a screwdriver. Or, it's showing how to loosen the seat part so that the noisy guy from his office will take a laughable pratfall at the next office happy hour at O'Herlihy's Ye Olde Ale House, which will be followed by a sternly-worded memo from the big boss on the following Monday.

Fig. "B"
is an ancient Sumerian hieroglyph, showing how best to plant a tree, using one's hand, a rake, and some Hot Pockets ®. If you think this led to successful crops, well, have you had any postcards from Sumeria lately?

Anthropologists have finally decided, after years of fierce bickering, that fig. "C"
is an Egyptian guy's shopping list. It would appear that he needed to stop off at the Nile-O-Rama and pick up some asterisks, eye drops, a fish for dinner, toothpicks and gummy worms. He didn't get to the store after all, as he suffered a rupture trying to carry a stone tablet around in his toga. Toga. Toga!

I finally got the printer printing and scanning but it took longer than it should have. Words might have helped. A thousand of them would have saved me from looking at the picture of where the print cartridges went, or was that a picture of the filtration system at Grand Coolee Dam?

Dam if I know.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sanford and Sin

South Carolinians - heck, anyone interested in some exotic, spicy Hot Gov Love can just on the link below
to read the slightly expurgated adventures of a man who is at once governor and farmer, Christian and avid extra-marital fornicator, husband and playboy. Really, to quote the Bible in an email to the woman you just cheated with takes a certain talent. I'm glad that not more of us have that talent.

The link takes you to the emails sent between soon-to-be-former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and "Maria," the woman about whom he so rapturously rhapsodizes. I just don't know what appalls me more - the cheesy content or the horrible grammar and spelling. "Maria" clearly is using English as a second language, so we can excuse her poor spelling and verbal miscues.

Governor Sanford, who is both a member of the party that stresses wise use of taxpayer dollars and yet someone who flew into the arms of Maria's exotic delights on the taxpayer dime last summer, is also not thoroughly familiar with the rudiments of English; this much is evident from seeing his spelling "lightning" as "lightening." He did manage, one assumes with the help of SpellCheck, to spell "Corinthians" right, but again, quoting the Bible to your tootsie-on-the-side is so... sketchy!

People tell me all the time that emails written in the full flow of a steaming stream of consciousness should be sent without taking the time to check spelling or grammar. Ths is why iget emials tht look liek this sentence. It's vexatious, and bespeaks the same personal ethos of someone who leaves the house without taking time for niceties such as deodorant, bathing, and other grooming. I don't know; it just seems that it's better to groom our words just as carefully as our coiffures than to dash off any half-fast emails and letters.

Your girlfriend in Argentina expects the best of you!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wingin' It

Salon.com has a column called Wingnut in which a right-wing nut (oh! that's why!) writes a column in defense of the indefensible, and it does make interesting reading. For the same reason, I can listen to the Rush O'Hannitys of the world and read the Buckleys, if only for self-amusement purposes. It's one of my cherished beliefs that these people no more believe in the inanity they put forth than Craig T. Nelson thought he was really the football coach at Minnesota State. That's where our troubles begin, when people can't tell the difference. When Robert Young was TV's Marcus Welby MD, people used to stop him on the street for medical advice. He capitalized on this by doing commercials for painkillers with the oft-repeated opening line, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."

Hey, that's good enough for lots of people, I guess! And if not, call Mariska Hargitay and have them arrested.

But someone wrote to this Wingnut and asked how the right wing, with their breast-beating (!) overweening moral indignation about the sexual peccadilloes of others, can advance the likes of twice-divorced, thrice-married Newt "Newt" Gingrich as a possible 2012 presidential prospect. Oh, it's easy, he writes back. You see, the right has long been the party of traditional American values, and forgiveness is one of those values, so you see...

What I see is a group of people who were ready to toss Bill Clinton out on his ear because he got a little busy. They forgave him right up to a stupid time-wasting impeachment.

I smile when I think of the mini-ruckus raised in some quarters after the Smothers Brothers referred to Ronald W. Reagan as a "known heterosexual." People were actually writing to the authority on such matters - Vernon Scott's "Personality Parade" column in Parade Magazine - asking how they could get away with such calumny. There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth.

Here's some more truth - if SC Governor Mark Sanford had been thought of as a possible presidential candidate next time, he more or less told his supporters and his chances to take a hike. The state legislature down there repudiated his plan to reject the federal stimulus money - "Imagine, all them Yankee dollars flowing down here to this sovereign state! Great balls of fire! Hot A'mighty!" - and so he disappeared. He literally took a hike, "along the Appalachian Trail" (mainly the part that runs through Buenos Aires), leaving the business of his state in unknown hands.

I guess he misunderstood the part about when the going gets tough, the tough get going. They didn't mean it that way, Guv'nuh!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I got an Icon Camera

"Shipped to Rochester" means different things in different contexts. If you were an Orioles fan in the heyday of the team, their triple A farm club was the Rochester Red Wings, and plenty of great players - Don Baylor, Bobby Grich and Doug DeCinces among them - had to spend a couple of extra years riding the minor-league bus because guys like Frank Robinson, Davey "Dum-Dum" Johnson and Brooks Robinson were up here in the majors, not going anywhere. It was to to be the fate of many a young ballplayer to get their shot at the Big Show, only to fall short of expectation and be farmed out to Rochester.

Rochester, NY, was also the name of the town on the thousands of rolls of Kodachrome film that my father shot of the various undertakings we undertook. (That sentence might require some fine tuning.) Kodak was located in Rochester, and it's from there that we get the sad news that Kodachrome, once the ne plus ultra of blank film, will not be produced any longer, what with everyone running around taking all their pictures on digital cameras, cell phones, and, probably before much longer, their digital wedding rings (free idea for some entrepreneur: a ring that has a digital IMAGE of a diamond!)

Over the years, Kodachrome became the film famed for recording images both wonderful and horrific. That pretty picture of an Afghan woman with haunting eyes...the Zapruder footage of John Kennedy's assassination, and countless others. But now, everyone's gone digital, and film - along with the lightmeters, and the other equipment people used to pull out while taking 15 minutes to take a photo of the family dog - is stuck in drawers somewhere.

Matter of fact, we have an old film camera in a kitchen drawer that we were using right up 'til the minute we got our first digital camera, and as Peggy suggested just the other night, we really ought to pop out that roll of film and get it developed. You never know what we might find on there.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Use your words!"

We have a dear, dear friend who has a dear, dear son. I am a huge fan of people who raise their children well. I realize that as father to no one, I am in no position to say what it's like to be the parent of anyone, but still, like a vegetarian buddy of mine who owned a steak restaurant down the ocean, I believe I can tell what's good and what isn't.

My dad used to tell me that people who used obscenity in their speech only did so because they didn't know the right words to use. My dad knew some words, I wanna tell you. In fact, if there is any explanation for the expansiveness of my vocabulary, it's easy to trace it back to my racing to the Merriam-Webster to find out what he meant when he pointed out that I was being contumacious, or obstreperous, or any of a hundred other snappy capsulizations. I wanted to follow along, so I had to know the words.

My friend has a three-word exhortation that she uses whenever her son is attempting to communicate: "Use your words!" I think that is great. Crying, screaming, throwing things, showing emotion...we all feel the urge to do these things, no matter our age, but how great it is to remember those three words. "Use your words!" Tell people how you feel, share your emotion, let someone know you need help, or tell someone you care about them. Our friend has spent a lot of time teaching her son many words, and there is no more important tool to communication than knowing the words. If you don't agree, then go over to Moscow, Baghdad or Highlandtown and try to order a cheeseburger. If you don't speak Russian, Arabic or East Baltimore, hon, you're gonna be short one burger and still hungry.

"Use your words!" No matter what, it's good advice. This young man will enter first grade this year, and he will be ahead of a lot of his classmates because he can express himself and his feelings so well. He really has been raised with love and devotion!

There's one exception. And when he looks at me and smiles, well, then he doesn't need any words at all. I love him, too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Humans Race

Two people still in their early 20s -a couple, a girl and a guy who once had their entire lives ahead of them to do with as they pleased - are dead now because over the weekend, they were among the crowd of onlookers at the scene of a drag race on the west side of the county. Mary-Kathryn Michele Abernathy, 21, from Columbia, was pronounced dead at the scene, as was her boyfriend, Jonathan Robert Henderson, 20, of La Plata.

According to the local papers, this all happened on Sunday morning at 3 am. People had pulled their cars off to the side of the road - and not just any old country road; they were on I-70, a main superslab that takes one West. Or not. It would seem that most in the crowd were there to watch, and then a police car came along, and everyone was hot-footin' it out of there, and a car that may or may not have been racing slammed into a parked car, seriously injuring the parked car's driver, who was standing alongside his vehicle. It was that vehicle that ran into Ms Abernathy and Mr Henderson, two more of the crowd gathered to watch other people drive too fast.

You have to wonder about a society that has a segment - no matter how small - of people who are so into their cars and how fast they can make them go that they decide to appropriate several lanes of an interstate highway to serve as their drag strip.

You have to wonder about the fragility of life. On the one hand, no one should be out at 3 o'clock in the morning without some useful purpose, and watching other people race their cars is not counted among such purposes. On the other hand, the injured man and the fatally injured couple were just watching, not participating, from all appearances, so the argument can be made that it was just bad luck and wrong-place, wrong-time. You hear all the time about people doing really risky things and living long and fruitful lives, and someone else makes one small mistake and they're gone. And can you even count it as a mistake, just to be a spectator at someone else's risky action?

This is something to think about, but don't expect to know the answer on this earth. That's why I look forward to getting to heaven, so all these answers will be made clear. Why are some taken so soon? Why is a Hitler, a Pol Pot, a Pinochet, allowed to inflict such enormity?

I want to know these answers, but then again, I'm not in any hurry to get them.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Complaint Dept.

Dean Wormer said, "The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me."

So, loath though I be to spend my whole blog bellyachin', when these things come in threes, it's time to vent.

#1 - what happened yesterday was the summer solstice, not the summer poultice. And in March, we enjoyed the vernal equinox, not the verbal equinox.

#2 - now that summer is here and the Orioles are approaching the 1/2way mark through their season, would it be too much to have their flagship station get some new versions of the same commercials that they run night after night, three or four times per game? I know it seemed very witty in November to have the Geico non-gecko say that his favorite response was "easy squeezy lemon peasy," but it ain't funny any more, if it ever was.

#3 I didn't bother kvetching when Tom Hanks went on the Oprah Show and said that the byzantine workings of the religious hierarchy depicted in his new movie were "obtuse," which means "lacking sharpness" in the geometric sense and "stupid" in the mundane. After all, Tom Hanks is an American treasure, being the Everyman great guy that he is and all, and one criticizes him at great risk. But I came across this writing on a blog, in an essay about the undisputedly great Arthur Lee of the band we call LOVE:
“The first Love record I actually owned was a Rhino ‘Best Of’ that came out in 1980. Though that record contained the song that would become my favorite – ‘Your Mind and We Belong Together’ – the tune that blew my mind wide open from the first listen was ‘7 and 7 Is’.
Though Love had (and has) been unfairly lumped in with the Nuggets crowd, due to the ‘one hit wonder’-ism of ‘My Little Red Book’, their punkiest record met, and transcended the greasy teenage swagger of 6T’s punk in a way that even today is hard to comprehend.
Packing more energy into its two minutes and nineteen seconds than some bands are able to produce in entire careers, ‘7 and 7 Is’ is as raw and savage a statement (if perhaps lyrically obtuse in a way not at all atypical for its time) as rock music has ever seen, and ending it with a sound-effects record explosion – a notion that might have damned a lesser record to an oblivion of novelty – seems today not only acceptable, but an absolutely necessary bit of punctuation.”

Fellas, you both meant "abstruse" (recondite), and Mr Fellow Blogger, cute as it might be to use the term "6T's" for "60's," kindly don't do so in writing about the late great Mr. Lee.

Now my venting is over; thanks for lending me eyes and ears.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lock it up

At work, I am generally known as a "key" man in the operation, which is flattering, but it turns out they really think of me as a "key man." Meaning, that I tend to have the keys to doors, passageways, safes, strongboxes and overhead sliding barriers. I collect keys, which means I used to walk around with a great keyring on my right hipbone, which weighed about 20 pounds.

How could a hipbone weigh 20 pounds?

If there's anything funnier than a subject-verb agreement joke, it's an elephant in my pajamas.*

But along with losing weight in the corporeal sense, I also thought it might be a good idea to cut down on the appurtenances I carried around - my deadly Craftsman® blade cutter, and at least one if not both of my Leatherman® tools.

Leatherman: the leader in pocket tools since 1981.

So imagine what a goof I felt like on Thursday when we slid by to see Drew and Laura's palatial new home. Drew and Jay had bought some high-class bottled beer. One of the Dutch varietals, I believe. So swanky was this brew that its bottlecaps would not yield to the twist of thirsty wrists.

They needed a bottle opener.

And they counted on Uncle Mark.

Who a) left his Leatherman Juice®and his Leatherman Micro® at home in order to enhance his sleek, man-on-the-go profile and who b) was driving Peggy's Camry, instead of the Tacoma shed-on-wheels.

We left before we found out how the finally uncapped that beer. Today, I'm packing everything - tools, knives, anything you need.

Did you remember to bring the beer?


* "On my safari, I shot an elephant in my pajamas.What he was doing in my pajamas, I'll never know!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Talk Talk

What did people do before cell phones came along? I'm not talking about the great convenience of being able to contact Dad on his way home to have him stop by and pick up some Swiss chard for dinner, or for people to call for help when they run out of gas, or luck, or love. And I don't refer to the tremendous benefit of being able to order a pizza for carryout, get directions to the pizza joint, check the balance on your Visa acct., get directions home and take a picture of the pizza (and everyone laying into it with the gusto one normally associates with prisoners who have broken into the warden's private pantry and are throwing a Crème Brulee feast) all with one little hand-held device.

Not talking about that.

I want to know one thing: all these people I keep seeing in parking garages, parking lots, pushing their carts through the Bag 'N' Save, or strutting through the mall... to whom did they previously chatter before they had a Bluetooth stuck in their ear (lovely image, that)?

Just the other morning at work, I heard a woman in the parking garage at quarter after seven in the yawning telling her friend that she had purchased a large chuck roast at a very favorable price in anticipation of this weekend's festivities. I guess she was talking to a friend. For all I know, the person on the other end was her attorney, or the call screener for Rush Limbaugh, or worse, if possible.

But what I'm saying is, could she not have waited until she got to her desk to share the news about the price of beef? Is solitude so loathsome that we avoid it at all costs, and fill our souls with conversation about the most mundane of topics just to make sure we're always connected to our friends?

I'm asking a lot of questions here. Compare and contrast. Discuss. Let's see what my 305 Facebook friends have to say.

Friday, June 19, 2009

New House

There aren't many things more fun than seeing people you love move into their dream house, and so last night it was a blast to slide by and see nephew Drew and niece-in-law Laura start setting up shop in their magnificent new abode.

I'll have to get you some pictures to show you, because my thousand words couldn't do justice to the coolness of this manse.

Just as a hint: three refrigerators. Three kitchen faucets.

Edgar A. Guest, vendor of populist poems many years ago, said "It takes a heap o' livin' to make a house a home," and with three kids: Preslee and Mason, the Top-Notch Twins, and their baby sister Finley (our goddaughter), there will be heaps o' living at this house. Also heaps of laundry, heaps of deer running around in the yard, and someday, heaps of young men, showing up at the door to take the girls out.

But don't fret: their cousin Alex was over tonight, and I have a feeling he is going to look over the would-be swains and beaus with both eyes open.

This is gonna be GREAT!

And...we're headed to Friendly Farm with Tatum and Joshua on Saturday...can't wait to meet him. What a great guy he is. A true gentle gentleman.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Come and Listen to my happy song

In the movie Clueless, protagonist Cher asked her stepbrother how long he had been listening to "complaint rock." That was the 80's form of folk rock, or protest rock, from the 60's. Eve of Destruction! Masters of War! Only a Pawn in their Game! Everyone's Gone to the Moon! And of course, In The Year 2525!

At least those songs had to do with putting an end to social injustice, racism, war, and other harmful things. There came later a subgenre of complaint rock: the dreaded Oh Lord How Hard It Is To Be a Rich, Famous Musician theme.

You heard these songs everywhere! Pre-Road Downs. Homeward Bound. Hollywood Nights. Travelin' Band.

Did you ever wonder why people would go out and buy a record about how hard it is to be a rich and famous entertainer? I always thought it seemed like a fairly appealing lifestyle, especially for those still young and energetically libidinous, to fly from town to town, work an hour or two at night, attend parties, get catered to like nobody's business, stay in swanky hotels, eat what you want when you want to...and that's not to mention that they were quite well paid. You notice, very few of these people laid down their guitars or synthesisers and took up positions as apprentice welders or parimutuel clerks.

It's like a wise man told me years ago: you can pay some people $700 a week to work as mattress testers, and they'll still find something to complain about.

I like my job and I wouldn't be able to make much of a song about how tough my life is. Life is sweet and I love it - hope it's the same for you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Breaking up is hard to do. That's why I don't do it.

But we just transferred our prescriptions from Safeway, where we never go for groceries anymore anyway, to Walgreens, which is close enough for me to walk to on my nightly perambulations.

It made no sense to keep running to the Safeway every time we needed a refill on something. It's the opposite direction from where either of us goes to work now, and again, the food and deli there really just bite it these days, so it's not as if we would be there loading up on pastrami and yogurt.

But I just have to tell you, dear Diary, I felt a little odd standing there in Walgreens when we told the guy we were going with them for our Rxes. He was very reassuring, said these things happen, and didn't seem to be judging us. Still, I felt like we were checking into some sleazebag motel for an hour of untrammeled conjugality or something, and my thoughts raced to the pharmacy staff over at Safeway, getting the call that we were leaving them after over ten years. Did they feel...jilted? Abandoned? Were they bereft? Disconsolate? Did they say, "If only they had CALLED or something...we could have worked this out...it didn't need to come to THIS!"

Maybe we should have sent a card. I'll see if Walgreens has one to cover this sort of thing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

J + K + 8 - (dignity + class) =

I was probably the last person in America to hear about these Jon and Kate + Eight people. I guess the first time I did hear anything about them, I thought they were a singing group...the names sound vaguely folk-y, and the Eight might have been their denim-and-gingham-clad back up singers. You know, like the Serendipity Singers or the Backporch Majority or Up With People, the most annoying aggregation ever to keep me awake during a mandatory assembly in my turbulent high school years. I still remember them, resplendent in red, white and blue, singin' and dancin' and making merry like 4th of July, the underlying tone being, "Be like us! Vote for Nixon and let's rule the world!"

Anyway. Jon and Kate and the poor undeserving-of-their-Fate 8 are this show on the Learning Channel or Discovery or one of those networks that I avoid like hot sauce on Wheaties. I guess you know the story: someone thought it would be a great idea to have cameras invade the lives of a couple who in turn thought it would be a great idea to ruin their children's childhoods by having cameras invade their lives. There's no dignity anymore, just photo ops and publicity tours. There are no private family moments, no chances to instruct the kids and teach them the ways to grow up properly without a horde of transfixed voyeur/viewers sitting home watching.

And then, of course, right as the new season for this foolishness is about to kick off, both Jon and Kate just have to have themselves photographed while accompanied by members of the opposite sex who are not their respective spouses. Now, then. As someone who is often seen talking to women who are not my wife, I have to point out that being seen in public with other people is not in and of itself a wrong thing. But being seen leaving some teacher's house at 3 in the morning, Jon, might cast a shadow of suspicion your way. Unless she was teaching you..oh, never mind.

Then Kate, not to be outdone, heads for some beach, fresh tummy-tuck scars all healed and showing lots of epidermis in 87 different bikinis. I've always been a fan of people who wear a bathing suit at the beach and then splash around in the water's edge, being careful NOT to mess up the hair. This Kate, her hair
is the ultimate helmet, and she must have stylists, colorists and beauty operators on call 24-7 to care for her every tonsorial need. I'm sure that all mothers of 8 - yea, mothers of any number - can relate to having so much time to lavish on the hair, the plastic surgery, the publicity campaign.

Judge Mark swinging the gavel down here: Jon and Kate, you wanted all these kiddies, well, you go raise them in relative privacy, will you? Leave more room on cable for Bret Michaels and his "If I wear a bandana every day, do you think they'll catch on to my hair loss problem?" show.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friendship means: a) support b) caring c) kindliness d) concern

I enjoy writing, and I have said that even if I thought that no one ever read my daily meanderings, I would still crank them out anyway. But it's so much better to know that someone is out there and that people care.

I've been friends with Carol since, what, 8th grade when she sat behind me in Mr. Luette's class, and I have enjoyed being her friend. She and her husband Rob have been very nice to us! Carol mentioned once that Rob made it a point to read this blog in the morning (they live in a place in Florida where there are much more interesting things to do and see than what I think about Oprah, but anyway, thanks, Rob!) And then last week when my old computer went down for the count, Carol emailed me just to make sure that all was ok with us and the family, since she knew I was making it a point to write every day.

You can't begin to know how much that meant to me! I got the email last Saturday when Peggy and I stopped at her office so I could check my email on a pc that actually worked, and the thought that someone would take the time to write and see how I was just put me over the moon.

And now that I am back in Blogolopolis, I can share something that Rob and Carol sent to me just before the dreaded crash. It's a clipping from Reader's Digest that mentions a website called FreeRice.com, and I urge you to click on it and play along. Simply by matching a word with one synonym out of a list of four, players contribute grains of rice through the UN World Food Program. I've been going there every day, piling up the rice for those in need.

I'd be much obliged if you'd join me there, and I'm much obliged to Carol and Rob for caring so kindly. I can see where this could be a mean, cold world without friends and their love. I thank my Creator that I don't have to know what it would be like to go without it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time Has Come Today

From the English newspaper Times Online:

An Italian woman who arrived late for the Air France plane flight that crashed in the Atlantic last week has been killed in a car accident, it has been reported.

Johanna Ganthaler, a pensioner from Bolzano-Bozen province, had been on holiday in Brazil with her husband Kurt and missed Air France Flight 447 after turning up late at Rio de Janeiro airport on May 31.

All 228 people aboard lost their lives after the plane crashed into the Atlantic four hours into its flight to Paris.

The ANSA news agency reported that the couple had managed to pick up a flight from Rio the following day.

It said that Ms Ganthaler died when their car veered across a road in Kufstein, Austria, and swerved into an oncoming truck. Her husband was seriously injured.

Friends, sure, this is one of those ironies that, ironically enough, was published in a newspaper: the irony being that newspapers might not have such a long future themselves any longer (sad to think about.)

But as someone who was supposed to die at age 13, I know the feeling of playing with house money, and I appreciate every "extra" day I've been granted. I hope Mrs Ganthaler did, too.

We just never know. Never. So why spend time fretting about the crumbs behind the toaster oven or the crumbs who cut you off in traffic? How many people do you think get wheeled into emergency rooms worrying about their crabgrass?

If you knew that your last rendezvous was to be on your way home from work on Monday, would you skip lunch to crunch those numbers on the Snyder account?

Would you not take the time to say something complimentary to someone?

Be careful today and tomorrow and be grateful every day, be my advice.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

40 Lashes

I had every intention of writing more about the events of this past week, but then when I came in from my walk and was pouring myself a nice cool glass of iced tea, I chanced to see a television ad for a product that grows eyelashes for those cursed with sparse eyelid forestation.

As the president would say, well, look. If this is a problem to some people, they have every right to look at it as such, but really, is it worth the trouble and expense to add a few longer, lusher lashes to the old eyebroom?

You might have not yet realized that there is a name for this affliction, which you might even have and don't even know about it! It's the heartbreak of e
yelash hypotrichosis, another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes according to the website for Latisse, which is the product which claims to add more lash to your LaRue. The website goes on:

Important Safety Information
If you are using prescription products for lowering eye pressure or have a history of eye pressure problems, only use LATISSE™ under close doctor supervision. May cause eyelid skin darkening which may be reversible, and there is potential for increased brown iris pigmentation which is likely to be permanent. There is a potential for hair growth to occur in areas where LATISSE™ solution comes in repeated contact with skin surfaces. If you develop or experience any eye problems or have eye surgery, consult your doctor immediately about continued use of LATISSE™. The most common side effects after using LATISSE™ solution are an itching sensation in the eyes and/or eye redness.

There you go..nothing to worry about! Eyelid skin darkening is reversible, and who cares about a little permanent brown iris pigmentation? The brown will nicely set off the red itchy eyes you might also get, giving your face a sort of Southwestern adobe-hut terra cotta sort of thing going on.

I don't know how much this Latisse costs, but unless your last name is the same as a major hotel
chain, I'd bet you have better things on which to toss away your loot. And I'd win that bet, if only by an eyelash.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It Could Be Verse

In the past week, I have had cataract surgery (successful), had my cell phone sporadically turn itself off for no discernible reason, had my computer take a permanap, bought a new computer that did not work at all, bought another new computer, dealt with a blocked oil duct in a location where nothing ought to be blocked if-you-catch-my-drift and, while taking a leisurely ride to our favorite bookstore on Sunday to take my mind off all this other michegas, had the CHECK ENGINE light illuminate the dashboard of my pick-'em-up truck, taunting me with its "This is gonna cost you plenty, buddy boy" insolence.

Total cost of all this comes to just under $150,000,000, rounded off.

But it doesn't bother me at all. My eyes work fine again and I can see things I haven't seen in years. Verizon replaced my cell yesterday, gratis. The new computer rules, and the 24 inch screen that looms in front of me now can show me images of such stunning beauty as to render me speechless. The oil duct is just ducky now. The good people at Jones Toyota fixed up the pickup and my Stewie bumper stickers and I are careening down the road right past your house this morning. Wave and holla!

But a couple of kids we love brought us a painted shell from the Ocean, just for us. I am so touched by this gift; it fills my heart with joy.

And I have the steadfast love of a woman so amazingly devoted to me that all she did all week was help me deal with all the above.

Little Jimmy Dickens used to sing a song in which he lamented his day-to-day problems, but summed it up singing, "It don't worry me, 'cause I love Lucy Brown."

I love Lucy too, but her name is Peggy and she really came through for me this week. I don't deserve her, but I thank my stars for her.

Oh, we'll talk about the eyes and the computer and the truck, but first things first. Glad to be back. I missed you!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Free wallpaper

Songs get caught in my melon and that's it. I hear them for a day or two and then I am so sick of them, they wind up in a sort of recycle bin until I delete them from memory.

Sometimes it's just a commercial jingle that gets into my rhythm. I was thinking of the "Red Lobster for the seafood lover in you..." spot that used to run on local radio.

Well, sir, for the b-b-q rib lover in you, here's a photo you might turn into the most mouth-watering wallpaper you ever saw. Man! That looks grrrrrrreat!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Former Disc Jockey Mounts High Horse

I'm not about to open the can of worms known as the ongoing abortion debate. Whatever your opinion, you are entitled to it, as I am entitled to mine.

Whatever the current laws allow or disallow, we all have the right to a) obey them or b) seek to have them changed if we disagree with them.

There is no, "c) go around killing people who are doing things you don't like."

Killing someone for what you call murder? Oh no, now we're into the capital punishment debate.

And while I'm up here on this high
horse...we are living in a culture that accepts murder very casually. We don't like what people are doing in some distant land, we send people to kill them.

We see people commit murder on city streets and get off virtually scot-free, with laughably short sentences and no recrimination.

Then children kill another child on a suburban street and we shake our heads, wondering why the young hold life in such low regard that they would take away the life of another so unfeelingly.

Wherever did they learn to be so

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Yes/No List

1. You can ONLY answer Yes or No.

2. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages or comments you and asks -- and believe me, the temptation to explain some of these will be overwhelming. Nothing is exactly as it seems.


Kissed any one of your Facebook friends? --- Yes
Been arrested? --- No
Kissed someone you didn't like? --- Yes
Slept in until 5 PM? --- Yes
Fallen asleep at work/school? --- Yes
Held a snake? --- Yes
Ran a red light? --- Yes
Been suspended from school? --- Yes
Experienced love at first sight? --- Yes
Totaled your car in an accident? --- Yes
Been in a vehicle at more than 100 mph? --- Yes
Driven a vehicle at more than 100 mph? ---Yes
Been fired from a job? ---Yes
Fired somebody? --- Yes
Sung karaoke? --- No
Pointed a gun at someone? --- No
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? --- Yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? --- No
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? --- Yes
Kissed in the rain? --- Yes
Had a close brush with death (your own)? ---Yes
Ever feared for your life? --- Yes
Seen someone die? --- Yes
Played spin-the-bottle? --- No
Sang in the shower? --- Yes
Smoked a cigar? --- Yes
Sat on a rooftop? --- Yes
Smuggled something into another country? --- No
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? --- No
Broken a bone? --- No
Skipped school? --- Yes
Eaten a bug? --- Yes
Sleepwalked? --- Yes
Walked a moonlit beach? ---No
Ridden a motorcycle? -- Yes
Dumped someone? --- No
Forgotten your anniversary? --- No
Lied to avoid a ticket? --- No
Ridden on a helicopter? --- Yes
Shaved your head? --- No
Played a prank on someone? --- Yes
Hit a home run? --- Yes
Felt like killing someone? --- Yes
Cross-dressed? --- No
Been falling-down drunk? --- Yes
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? --- Yes
Eaten snake? --- No
Marched/Protested? --- No
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? --- No
Puked on amusement ride? --- No
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? --- Yes
Been in a band? --- No
Knitted? --- No
Been on TV? --- Yes
Fired a gun? --- No
Skinny-dipped? --- Yes
Gave someone stitches? --- No
Eaten a whole habenero pepper (or other hot peppers)? --- Yes
Ridden a surfboard? --- No
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? --- Yes
Had surgery? --- Yes
Streaked? --- No
Taken by ambulance to hospital? --- Yes
Tripped on mushrooms? --- No
Passed out when not drinking? --- Yes
Peed on a bush? --- Yes
Donated Blood? --- Yes
Grabbed electric fence? --- No
Eaten alligator meat? --- No
Eaten cheesecake? --- Yes
Eaten your kids' Halloween candy? --- No
Killed an animal when not hunting? --- Yes
Peed your pants in public? --- No
Snuck into a movie without paying? ---No
Written graffiti? --- Yes
Still love someone you shouldn't? --- No
Think about the future? --- Yes
Been in handcuffs? --- No
Believe in love? --- Yes
Sleep on a certain side of the bed? --- Yes
Have a tattoo? --- No
Have a piercing(s) --- No

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Show Must Go On...right after this...

I'm going to open the floor to suggestions from the audience on this one (pause for laughter.) I just don't know what to think, so I ask for your thoughts. I'll give them right back.

My mother lives in a senior high-rise; she is in the independent living area. There are also assisted living and nursing care components where she lives. There is also entertainment galore. A movie every Saturday night, concerts and musicales, book clubs, lectures, all sorts of things to do.

But she told me about some odd entertainment that took place the other night. A local man - a professional, not some goober who just rode in on a turnip truck - showed up to sing a program of show tunes. And he is not a guy who lives there, although any regular visitor to most of the malls in this area would recognize his surname. Accompanied by a buddy on piano, he warbled his way through the usual "Send In the Clowns," "If I Loved You," and "Shipoopi."

And so then, his cell phone rang.

And he takes the cell phone out of his pocket and takes the call!

And holds a personal conversation, while the audience sits puzzled and somewhat restive (several people got up and walked out.)

At length, the man's wife - if she really was his wife - came up on the stage and mildly upbraided him for wasting everyone's time. She told him to end the call and get on with the show.

And then he says, "Time for an intermission, folks," and sticks his cell up by ear and makes a call.

And then when he was finished with this call, he closed the phone, put it back in his pants, and went on with the show.

Now, again, this man is not under treatment that we know about, is not a resident of the home, and in fact continues to ply his profession here in town.

I think this leads to only two possibilities:

a) he is about the most rude entertainer ever, completely self-involved, with not a whit of interest in his audience or

2) it was all some sort of post-Andy Kaufman latter-day Dadaistic performance art concept piece.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I await your verdict.