Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's the stupid economy

About a year ago it came time for Peggy and me to trade in both our vehicles and get new Toyotas - Camry for her, Tacoma for me. With a precision that even TV's Monk would admire, we bought the car and truck on the same day some years back, so they go for service at the same time, run out of gas more or less in unison, and everything's on an even keel. Being Toyotas, of course, they hardly need much in the way of elaborate maintenance. So, again, as last autumn approached, I was looking at the pickup truck ads the way John McCain would eye up a primary election back in the day...all wistful, and "can I afford that?"

And then the economy went kablooie. Notice that, of late, it's always late August/September when the ship really hits the sand...Hurricanes Andrew, 1992, Katrina, 2005, and Isabel, 2003...the stock and bond market crash, 2008, flooding in Dundalk this year and also in the Philippines, and of course, the ineffable events of 9/11/2001. So last September didn't seem like a propitious time to invest a lot of money into two new vehicles, and we didn't, preferring instead to sink a couple G's into rehabbing the old reliables with new tires, brake linings, and a little Windex for the windshields.

Now...are things looking a little better? We had Cash for Clunkers, which for all the love I have for BHO sounded an awful lot like a game show, with Jay Mohr in a powder-blue tux, handing out keys to new Buicks. Dealers are making deals like you never heard of before, and I'm just darting around trying to use up these new tires. Everybody else has GPS now, and even though I hardly ever go anyplace I haven't been sixteen times already, I would like to have the thrill of someone telling me to "turn left" in a crisp British accent. Maybe I could hire Mick Jagger, Jr., to sit there and voice it for me.

I might not know everything, but don't you have to figure there must be a Mick Jagger, Jr.?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baby Steps

One of the great things about having babies in the family is, you never walk up to a nine-month-old and say, "What's new?" only to have them reply, "oh, nuttin'." Always something going on. It's good to have babies around! "Little" Jimmy Dickens sang that song "Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed" about the times when relatives and friends would show up and you'd wind up sleeping in less commodious circumstances. He sang the lines,
It was fine enough when the kinfolks come and the kids brought brand new games
You could see how fat all the old folks was and learn all the baby’s names..."

with the conviction of a man who liked to see the new kids in the family doing well.

Well, yesterday was a big, big day in our family. It was Christening Day for baby Finley, and were we ever proud to be there as her Godparents. Drew and Laura certainly honored us. As I understand it, this gives me the right, when she reaches dating age (46) to look over any prospective suitors and weed out any if I don't like the cut of their jib. It's good that she won't be dating any time soon, thus giving me time to look up and find out what in blazes a jib is anyway.

And then today, her elder by five months, baby Isabella, demonstrated her new walk! Her mom, Jamie, says she just started strutting around this weekend, and I was so fortunate to catch her steppin' out! How cool. Click on Jamie's blog there to see the photo.

How many miles will Isabella walk in her lifetime, and to think we saw the first steps today! How many significant moments and ceremonies are there going to be for Finley, and here we were enjoying the first one with a sweet ceremony and a nice party.

Anyone else need a godfather or anything, I have this new suit with a v. clean white dress shirt, snappy suspenders (braces) and a red tie. I am ready. I love significant moments and I wish you and yours many of them - together!

Friday, September 25, 2009

News for Parents

As someone who now commutes in that fun-packed 7AM - 7:30 AM time slot, I feel it incumbent upon me to point out two things that parents of school-age children ought to hear. This is all based on my observations of the younger generation as they pile onto school buses with the same alacrity displayed by arriving prisoners in "The Shawshank Redemption."

First of all, what with the ongoing debate about the physical fitness of tomorrow's leaders today, how about we tell the school bus NOT to stop every ten feet so that little Brattleboro can saunter out of bed and into the yellow/orange tube right in front of his house. I'm pretty sure that walking to the next block wouldn't kill any of them, and plus it would give the girls a chance to apply some more of the cosmetics they are forbidden at home and give the boys a chance to tell more Johnny Efferfaster jokes to a much wider audience.

And, this just in: toxicology reports confirm the hunch I had before. A little bit of rain will NOT scald, disfigure, disembowel, skin, or libidinously excite your child (14-year-males are the exemption there, since things as seemingly non-sensual as the sound of rustling leaves arouse them). So, it really is ok for Brattleboro and Ursula to be outside while clear liquid falls from the sky. They will not die. Repeat, they will not die. Plus, all these kids waiting in cars until the bus pulls up and then doing the slooooooow saunter over to the vehicle holds the driver up, and he's got places to go, man!

I've got to get there...did you see the price of gas?

Snow, we'll talk about soon enough.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where'd they get the expression "Devil-may-care"?

They're big in the Hispanic communities. They call them telenovelas; we call them soap operas. Interesting - they're on in the evenings, 5 nights a week, on the Spanish-language stations, while US networks run theirs during the day, although a huge chunk of the viewers watch them later, time-shifting with digital video recorders and the occasional VCR.

But on a story called
“Más Sabe el Diablo,” (“The Devil Knows Best,”) the US Census people are getting involved, supplying props and writing assistance to help weave into the story line a reassuring strand about how important it is for the Latino population to be sure to be counted in the 2010 Census. There's been a tradition of ducking the censustaker for fear that information given will then be used in less-than-pleasant means. The government wishes to get an accurate decennial snapshot of the population of the nation, and the people who run the Telemundo network - part of the GE/NBC megapower - can claim they are doing this to help that effort, but it also stands to reason that the ability to show a larger potential audience for their niche programming will mean more money rolling in for them. Which suits me fine, because they can always use it to give Keith Olbermann all the money he can wheel to the bank, if he'll only keep appearing on TV to lay out truths both witty and wise.

But Peggy and I had one of those philosophical discussions tonight, ranging from Who Created God so that He could create the world, and how it must have felt to be the Virgin Mary. I don't like to postulate about things we can't know on this plane; I believe in the teachings I was given as a child and I don't question them. What could be less definite than people on earth discussing what they know about the afterlife? We have faithful hope, but I bet it's gonna be way different than what a lot of people think.

Don't look for me to be invited to deliver the commencement address at any divinity schools this year. I consider myself religious, and I love being that way, but I don't know a whole lot. Just like plumbing and electricity. I count on them being there for me all the time, so why question beyond that?

And I do know that I'd like to avoid going to hell.
Any place that's hot as hell would not be for me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

H.R. Blockhead

The flinty-eyed Hawkeye pictured above, Harold Royce "H.R." Gross, served the citizens of Iowa for thirteen terms in the House of Representatives, earning a reputation for ignoring the greater good while watching every nickel spent in D.C. Among the projects he voted against: the Peace Corps, the Marshall Plan (for rebuilding Europe following World War II), the US space program, foreign aid, and the White House security detail.

(Sidelight: before going to Congress, he was a newscaster on WHO Radio in Des Moines, where he worked with another announcer named Ronald W. Reagan, who later appeared in movies. True!)

The point of all this, please? Take you back to November 1963, and the resultant emotional trauma suffered by the nation following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the beloved president. His widow made a simple request that the president, who was also a World War II hero - the war in which Reagan served the nation by making recruiting films from the safety of Hollywood - be remembered by the placement of a simple eternal natural gas flame by his grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

What sort of person, what miser would oppose this? What kind of
cheapskate, piker, scrooge, skinflint, tightwad gozzlehead would vote "NAY" on the request, demanding to know the price of the gas to fuel the flame? Well, don't you know, it was our boy H.R. Truly a standout moment in a non-lustrous career.

Except for what happened next. First, on the floor of the House, there was considerable opprobrium directed Gross's way. And the following summer at the Republican National Convention, a move was afoot to take away his credentials to serve as a delegate and replace him with a housewife, the vote ending in a tie.

But in those days, an outrage against an honorable president engendered an appropriate bilateral response. Wish it could be the same today. I was going to post a representation of the signs being toted around currently, but they tend to make me want to vomit. Someone care to explain how and when it became all right to advocate killing the president? I mean, without the "oh, that's only 1/10th of 1% of the protesters" qualifying explanation. I say, if you have one such person on your side, better stop and figure out where such invective is being brewed, before continuing on a lawful and decent protest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Let me Be the Last to Know

I'm not sure there are statistics to bear out our beliefs, especially when they are non-scientific. When I worked at 911, there was a commonly held theory that we were much busier during times of the full moons. Then, someone sat down with an almanac, some Hostess Ho-Hos and the daily call printouts, and it turned out that was just supposition, based on the input of the almanac and the stats. The HoHos were just something to make the afternoon go by faster.

Then "they" all said, ok, maybe we don't get more calls during full moons, but we sure get the weird ones. Once again, fact is not as much fun as fiction (which accounts for the popularity of FOX News) because 911 gets weird calls 24 x 7 x 365.

But - how many times have you seen this one? Someone famous dies, and someone says, "Now watch: two more will go soon, too!" Is it that is does happen in threes, or do we just pay attention in triplicate?

Last week, Patrick
Swayze, Henry Gibson and Mary Travers all went home to their rewards. An unlikely triumvirate, they: Gibson, the quirky performer from "Laugh-In" who played plenty of character roles over the years...Swayze, the guy who walked that line between ballet and barroom bouncer so successfully ...and the female member of Peter, Paul and Mary, Ms Travers, all gone now. A shame, I liked them all; and Peggy was such a PPM fan that we often have stewball stew and lemon tree pie for dinner.

But while on this bittersweet topic, I still am interested in joining a tontine, if anyone knows of one. The deal is, a group of people with more or less equal life expectancies pools some money, and then the last one to shuffle off this mortal coil bags all the loot. Lorenzo Tonti, Italian banker of the 17th century, came up with this idea. You have to wonder if he won one when it came his time.

And, I just went online to get Tonti's date of departure, and found an article about tontines that said they are illegal in the US and Great Britain. Oh, so NOW they tell me.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I have so many friends who are police, yet they don't arrest me for stealing these quizzes!

1. I've come to realize that my size... is still too big but I'm working on it!

2. I've come to realize that my job...calls for me to use skills and relationships that I've garnered over many a year.

3. I've come to realize that when I'm driving...I wish other people were doing a better job of it.

4. I've come to realize that I need... very little in the way of material things as compared to many, and a lot more love than most.

5. I've come to realize that I have lost...a lot of time regretting the past, which is stupid.

6. I've come to realize that I hate... people who revel in stupidity. There's stupid, and there's proud stupid.

7. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk's 1973!

8. I've come to realize that money... can't buy me love. Everybody tells me so.

9. I've come to realize that certain people....are very special. Others, not so much. (Thanks, Meghan! great answer!)

10. I've come to realize that I'll always... be pretty much as I am today.

11. I've come to realize that my very different from me, but we create a nice loving relationship out of the difference.

12. I've come to realize that my mom...should really think about just letting it all go and enjoying her splendid life.

13. I've come to realize that my cell phone... is a worthwhile communications tool, and not a vital organ.

14. I've come to realize that when I woke up this morning.... it was dark and cold and Peggy was sleeping soundly, which is good!

15. I've come to realize that my first love... is Peggy, and I knew that the second I saw her.

16. I've come to realize that right now I am much I like the clean fresh cooler outside air, but the price is having to hear everyone's muscle car, monster truck, leafblower, weedwhacker, Big Wheel, and contumacious parents.

17. I've come to realize that my dad.... lost a lot while winning WWII.

18. I've come to realize that when I get on Facebook.... I can see photos and catch up with people I have known for over half a century, and so I say Facebook is a good thing.

19. I've come to realize that today..... I have another chance to tell the world I love it.

20. I've come to realize that my best Peggy. She's the first person I think of in any kind of situation.

21. I've come to realize that my spouse....could have married someone much better than I, but I'm glad she didn't.

22. I've come to realize that I really want to...fill my iPod with every song I have every loved or even liked.

23. I've come to realize that the person who is most likely to respond to this is....a veterinarian in North Carolina whom I like a lot. Or Peggy!

24. I've come to realize that life...truly is what you make it.

25. I've come to realize that this weekend.... is week 2 of the 2009 NFL season.

26.I've come to realize that my children...are all the family and honorary family that I've been given. I love them all.

27. I’ve come to realize that when life gives you lemons….you can exchange them for Granny Smith apples or bananas. There are do-overs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh, for crying out loud

This is a true story, because I'm not all that creative.

There's an old expression "I haven't seen you since Hector was a pup." I guess that at one point, someone had a dog by that name and he or she went around all the time comparing lengths of time to the age of the dog, sort of like the way we all use our 30th birthdays as touchstones of who-knows-what.

So, I'm on the phone one day at work, returning a call to the Public Defender's office, and I say to the person I'm speaking with, "I haven't heard from you since Hector was a pup." And we talk for 10 or 15 minutes, work-related, and then she says, "So how long have you had this dog?" And, slow on the uptake as ever, I ask, what dog?, and she replies, "Hector!"

Which is why I was so sad to see this sign yesterday. I was in Dundalk when I saw it, and if you have any info about this Hector, let me know and I will call the number that's on the picture from before I blurred it.

Also, "Great balls of fire" is only a colloquial expression as well. "Jam up and jelly tight" might be, or it might be a recipe.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Always Leave 'Em Laughing Dept.

I love the unique..things that only take place once in history. An unassisted triple play in the seventh game of a World Series, pulled off by a seven-foot tall shortstop, would be something to remember. I am willing to bet that mine is the only iPod that shuffles from Bing Crosby to the Sex Pistols to Ernest Tubb. We once had a neighbor whose father was a horrible, mean man. When he died, her mom greeted me out by the mailbox with a sentence that might never have been spoken in our language before.

"Have some chili - my husband died today!"

Which brings me to this
photo, which I saw online. Maybe the family depicted doesn't have many chances to get together to pose en masse. Maybe it's some mordant gag. Maybe they are celebrating a life, not mourning a death.

I don't know either, but I have to wonder.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I don't understand

I don't understand all this anger and meanness and vitriol spewing forth around here. You got Deep South Congressman Addison Gates "Joe" Wilson shouting out at the man who was elected president, which means that more people voted for him than voted for his opponent. You got Kanye West being the total antithesis of a gentleman. You got Serena Williams threatening anatomical impossibilities at a tennis line judge, and then Roger Federer curses at the chair judge during the same tournament.

Incidentally, I'm going to ask one more time: why is it that a baseball player stands there with a wooden bat, 60'6" from a guy who will throw the ball in his direction at speeds approaching 100 mph, and the crowd is screaming and the other players are screaming and the flashbulbs are flashing and so is Lance Rentzel and the cameras are recording everything and no one says hey, everyone be quiet?

But oh! Golf! Tennis! Don't dare cough! or sneeze! or even think about cheering on your favorite or boohissing your unfavorite! And golf- the ball's not even MOVING! Nothing's gonna happen til the golfer sashays up to the ball with all his advertisements on and hits it. THEN and ONLY THEN, you may elect to breathe.

And now Michael Jordan, favorite of so many, is elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. He invites the guy who made the team over him when Jordan was a sophomore to the induction, just so he could point out that the wrong guy made the team. So mean, so petty, to fly the guy to Massachusetts to pay him back after all these years for someone else's - the coach's - decision. They cut Jordan, kept this senior, Leroy Smith, and dozens of years later, Jordan can't let go of his anger.
“I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.”

Michael Jordan, you are a billionaire. Go be happy with your money and stop being mean to people. Roger Federer, stop throwing f-bombs at some guy making one percent of your salary. He does his job; you do yours.

Everybody knock it off, chill, whatever the current expression is, and maybe we'll be happier soon. I just don't see the need for all this rage.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It Could Only Happen In America. Or Philadelphia.

Summer vacation means an annual screening of the great Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation, a movie starring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara and a host of others from 1962. There's a great scene in which Hobbs is trying to find a suitable date for his daughter, who is suspected of having lockjaw but is actually just refusing to unclench her lips, lest someone see that she is wearing braces on her chompers. Hobbs leans into a crowd of guys and hollers, "Hey, Joe!" and Fabian turns around to answer love's call, even though he doesn't know it yet. Later on, after Mrs Hobbs figures out that her hubby is shelling out finskys to these young men to get them to dance with his daughter, she decries his method of finding the dudes, and Hobbs says "I just called 'Hey, Joe!' There's one in every crowd." What we moderns can learn from this is, that's a great way to find a vice-presidential running mate or an NFL quarterback, but not so great if you need a plumber.

But the story of Fabian
could only happen here. Born Fabiano Anthony Forte in Philly in 1943, 14-year-old Fabian was feeling rather glum one day in 1957. His dad, a Philadelphia cop, had just been taken to the hospital, suffering a heart attack, and the family was upset. There he sat on the front steps in South Philly when a couple of record-biz hot shots drove by, and in one of those Pygmalion moments that dot our culture like dandelions on an April lawn, they said, "There's a good-looking kid - bet we can make him a star." And danged if they didn't.

He had a run of hit records, appeared in 30 movies, and then slid into that silver-lined oblivion that entertainers always veer toward. Nowadays, he appears in oldies revival shows and probably earns a pretty dollar for doing so. And it all started because he took to the porch in a disconsolate moment.

Oh yeah - almost forgot this - speaking of oblivion - in the coverage of the Over Three Dozen March on Washington last weekend, I saw one of our wiser citizens making the claim to a TV reporter that "Obama is going to take us all the way to Bolivian." Yeah man!

But we all make mistakes. I remember reading about the Fabian Society in high school and thinking it was pretty cool that the singer of "This Friendly World"
had an entire political movement named for him - in England, no less. When it turned out that the Fabians were lazy Socialists named for a Roman general who employed a strategy of winning by basically annoying the other side to death, I was disappointed. It was not to be the last time for that, either. But this Fabian song always un-disappoints me, even if I have to go to Bolivia!

In this friendly, friendly world with each day so full of joy
Why should any heart be lonely?
In this friendly, friendly world with each night so full of dreams
Why should any heart be afraid?
The world is such a wonderful place to wander through
When you've got someone you love to wander along with you
With the skies so full of stars and the river so full of song
Every heart should be so thankful
Thankful for this friendly, friendly world.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Delaware In The World

I've never been there, but I'm willing to bet that if you found yourself talking to a local in some diner in Romania, you'd hear talk about how all drivers of cars bearing Bulgarian tags are crazed fools, bent on annihilating the entire world, one carload at a time.

So it's universal, which makes me feel not so bad about saying that the other night when Ms Peg and I went to Ocean City MD via the up north -and - down through Delaware route, it was raining like a sonuvagun . We were on some dark, dank highways, and the lighting wasn't quite as bright as you might like it, and Delaware hasn't seen fit to install those reflectors in the lane markers, so with the water ponding and the dim light, it was sort of tough to see just in which lane to steer the car.

Fortunately, drivers of cars bearing Delaware tags have devised what they must call the ADLA signaling system. This Automatic Digital Lane Advisor uses just one finger to advise other motorists how many lanes they are legally entitled to occupy, and then points that finger heavenward, wishing the viewer a safe passage the rest of the way.

However, it was all forgotten by the time we got down South far enough to smell the ocean. And to see the sign that lets you know you've arrived at
Slaughter Beach De - now that's a destination we can all salute with ALL our fingers. Imagine -

"Say, Chet, where you are taking the family for va-cay this summer?"

"Why, Slaughter Beach, of course. The wife and kids wouldn't have it any other way."

Imagine the movie possibilities!

"They came for the weekend...and stayed for the gore! Slaughter Beach...starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Chris O'Donnell, and John Travolta as 'Danny.' 'Slaughter Beach'...this weekend. Don't go to the beach without plenty of towels..................."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A gift for you!

This is not a picture that I took on minivacation! But it could be a cool new wallpaper for your pc, replacing the one of the guy throwing his shoes at George W. Bush.

Here's the link if you'd like to see the real huge version. More tomorrow, fer shure!

I'm so honored

The minivacation roars on, the end is in sight, fresh posts tomorrow! Meanwhile, another rerun? Yikes - this, from 2008, already!

I am! I sent a photograph to a blog called The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, and blogging star Bethany Keeley used my submission today:

which is, to me, a nice thing. Glad to see there are still a few finicky grammarians out there, and people who actually take the time to notice bad grammar, stilted constructions, and misspellings / improper usages.

If you see enough sentences that say, for example, "Your going to be in like so much trouble with your friends because there not going to wait
, they are going to the movie's without you", or enough driveway markers that proclaim this to be the house of "The O'Hoolahan's", or enough auto shop signs that tell us that "All-Types-Repairs-Mechanic-On-Duty", eventually you will just reach your "braking" point, as they say.

I once had a student tell me that a certain classmate, a momentary pariah for some social offense, was to be considered a "persona au gratin" from that point on. It's cheesy now even to bring it up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

100 Things

(Editor's Note...Mark is ''taking some time off," as they say on the Today Show. While he continues to enjoy the September of this year, he trotted out some retreads. Such as this one:)

Not trying to be solipsistic here...but I found the prototype for this on a wonderful blog called Catheroominations ( and I thought I'd fill it out for myself, keeping just a few of hers which fit me, and making the rest up. I love filling out those online survey quizzes, and I recommend this exercise for getting in touch with the you only you know best! Thanks, Catheroo. If I were to add a #101, it would be to say that your blog is really great!

As Jackie Gleason used to say, "And aw-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaay we go!"

100 Things About Me

1. I like online jigsaw puzzles
2. I like tea in the morning and coffee every night after dinner
3. I don’t like noises from outside of the house, especially loud car stereos
4. I’m more likely to be hot than cold
5. I love football and baseball jerseys and my favorite is the Browns home jersey (brown and orange)
6. I would love to write a book, but who would read it?
7. Bad spelling annoys me but bad grammar is worse
8. I hate liars
9. I like people-watching and find it endlessly fascinating
10. I like to drive, except in the city
11. I get crazy leg cramps while asleep
12. I believe in the spirit of Elvis
13. I wonder if newspaper advice columnists ever make up the letters they answer
14. I believe in fate and signs and certain personal superstitions
15. I never cry
16. I think the lyrics to a song are far more important than the music
17. I am loved by someone special
16. I could live the rest of my life without chocolate
17. I like to drink beer in a frozen mug
18. I used to drink Coke but have not had a soda of any sort since June 2005
19. I like to ride the exercise bike while watching sitcoms
20. I have a bizarrely good memory for dates and a terrible memory for names
21. I hate Brussels sprouts and lima beans
22. I hate bullies even though my size and quick tongue kept me from being their victim
23. I am a Cancer born on 6/30, but so is Mike Tyson: so what good is astrology?
24. I believe that an occasional flareup helps relieve built-up tensions at work
25. I have never failed to vote in any election since I registered to vote in 1972. George McGovern.
26. I have lost too many friends and loved ones to cancer (actually, one is too many)
27. I think the glass is half full - I am basically optimistic
28. I keep promising myself to never split infinitives
29. I can’t stand bad table manners
30. I used to love country music but now it seems banal in its present state
31. I love to drive around in my truck with Peggy, looking at changing leaves in the fall, and Christmas lights
32. I believe I am relatively easy to please but I can see how others might not agree with that
33. I love music with saxophones, ukuleles and accordions
34. I used to go to grocery stores where no one knew me, speak with a quasi-European accent, and ask a clerk, “Please to tell, where are ze potato cheeps?”
35. I love being married
36. I can speak Spanish well enough to get by and sometimes think in Spanish to keep it sharp in my mind
37. I would love to learn ventriloquism
38. I love words and etymology
39. I want more time to read
40. I am a morning person
41. I began watching TV news fanatically when I was 5
42. I’m generally happy
43. If you are sick or injured, I will be glad to help take care of you
44. Wind chimes irritate me
45. I like reading newspapers and at one time was plowing through four per day
46. I wonder about California: they send their drunk-driving celebrities to jail and their murdering celebrities get off scot-free
47. I love to wear shorts outside in the winter
48. I have a friend whose ex-husband’s mother was the cook for a prison in Alabama, and I wanted to meet her to swap creamed chipped beef recipes
49. I miss the anticipation of getting pictures back from the photo developing shop - digital photography just might catch on!
50. I love popcorn but the smell of the fake butter makes me nauseated, so I have to search hither and yon for “natural” flavor nukecorn
51. I love old New Yorker and Life magazines for the slices of old-time life they provide
52. I love to cast actors to play my family, friends and co-workers in the forthcoming movie of my life - Drew Carey as me, Edward G. Robinson as my grandfather
53. I can drive a manual transmission vehicle
54. When I had an assistant, I had the greatest assistant in the working world
55. I have forsworn many of my OCD traits but I will never yield on my stance on punctuality - I am fanatically early for everything
56. I like a beer with my dinner but I can live without it
57. When I was a kid, I would spend hours reading the Information Please Almanac and the World Book Encyclopedia- that‘s why I love surfing the net - so much information to be gleaned!
58. I love the oral histories written by Studs Terkel and love to hear people’s reminiscences on my own
59. I think that Norm MacDonald is one of the funniest human beings
60. Bad pronunciation bugs me
61. I have never eaten venison, nor rabbit, nor buffalo
62. I love it when pompous blowbags use malapropisms
63. I’m considered witty
64. Favorite snack: handful of mixed nuts
65. I have absolutely zero talent at acting, which puts me in some highly-paid company (Hi there, Jim Belushi!)
66. I was well into my 50’s before I realized that people would just as soon NOT have their grammar, spelling or pronunciation corrected.
67. I have never been arrested
68. I was the last person in the world to get digital cable, as far as I know
69. I sing along in the truck but I am a terrible singer
70. I don’t know whether Phil Spector killed that woman, but I sure know he made some of the greatest records ever
71. I am a Maryland native
72. I had almost no self-confidence growing up and then one day I said, hey what the hell, I’m good enough
73. I love listening to old-time radio shows such as Phil Harris, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve
74. I laugh a lot and hope to make others laugh, the better to share the maxim “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine”
75. I believe in karma
76. There are times when nothing will do for dinner but McDonald’s
77. I get cranky when I’m tired or hungry
78. I was pleasantly surprised at how much more courteous Southern drivers were than Northerners when we went down South in ‘04
79. I am tremendously nostalgic about the 50’s and 60’s and have been known to visit my old public schools just to walk down the halls and bask in memories
80. I was a volunteer firefighter for 7 years and still claim kinship to the fire dept brother-and-sisterhood
81. I believe in love at first sight and my marriage is a testament to it
82. Like most Baltimoreans, I idolize Cal Ripken, Jr., and have always found him to be a kind and admirable person
83. I am an Orioles and Ravens fan but I don’t take it as a personal shortcoming if the teams don’t do so well
84. When Oprah was a local Baltimore newscaster, I grew so tired of her grammatical errors that I called channel 13 and asked them to counsel her against saying “Join Richard Sher and I this morning at 9...”
85. I wonder why anyone takes what they read in the gossip magazines to be any kind of true
86. I love driving my pickup truck and can’t imagine not having one
87. I love a band called LOVE from the late 60’s and no one else I know does!
88. At 6’ 5”, I have come to know the look of a woman in the grocery store who cannot quite reach the Vienna sausage, fig newtons or hoisin sauce on the back of the top shelf, and I’ll be glad to help
89. I bought a professional hair trimmer so Peggy can keep me buzz-cut in between visits from Gail, our tonsorial artiste
90. I like to use 50’s-hepcat words for money, like “semolian” for dollars, “sawbuck” for 10 dollars and “yard” for 100 bucks.
91. If I like a joke, you can count on hearing it again for 20 or 30 years
92. I don’t like going to the movies anymore because of the boorish way people behave - talking, phones ringing, etc
93. I love pop songs sung by Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby and Matt Monro
94. I was an A&P grocery clerk before I became a young DJ
95. I love my job but my dream job has always been to be the booth announcer on a game show (“Tell her what she’s won, Mark!” “Be glad to, Bob! First, a year’s supply of Turtle Wax, a case of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, and a new gas range from Tappan - Tappan: the leader in kitchen appliances since 1888”)
96. I have plenty of faults, but I do think I can cheer people up when they need it
97. I prefer to shave with a razor; it gives a much cleaner shave than an electric
98. I will never forget the night a friend called and asked what I was doing and I answered, “I’m organizing my spare light bulbs by size and wattage” and I don’t think she believed me
99. I talk back to the television but I never get an answer
100. My heart still skips a beat when I see my wife

Who's next?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

College Football

(Editor's note: while the author is on vacation, he is stealing old entries from his archives. Here's one from almost a year ago. Please don't ask for your money back.)

I love autumn Saturdays because one can choose from a veritable potpourri of college football games on tv. To many, college football is "three yards and a cloud of dust." It's the single-wing, the I formation, the lonely end. It's cheerleaders, it's Peyton Manning in sunglasses telling the Vols to go for two, it's Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant and Amos Alonzo Stagg.
But more than anything, college football is a coach being escorted onto or off the field by a phalanx of beefy state troopers. And the coach will always have his sideline pass prominently displayed near his pelvis, as if anyone in the state would fail to recognize him and try to block his entrance to the playing field. In a lot of states, the University coach is better known, better loved and certainly better paid than the University president. Florida State's Bobby Bowden is a prime example:

At Florida State games, the ultimate honor is to be the student who dresses like a Seminole Indian (Chief Osceola) and rides to the fifty-yard line on a horse named Renegade, where he (the Chief) plants the business end of a flaming spear into the loamy Florida turf. Ah, the pageantry!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hittin' the Bottle

Here's something we all wanted to do as least, I say "we" when "we" were in that Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer mode, before the blossoming beauty of Becky Thatcher called us all away from our busy days of catching frogs and building rafts and dams and fishin' in the crick and doing the guy stuff. We all wanted to send a message by writing something profound, enclosing it in a bottle and then tossing said bottle into the raging sea. We always figured, old Huck and I, that our bottle would provide entertainment and reading matter for the crew of Kon-Tiki II or something. This was in The SUN:

A Maryland student's note stuffed in a corked wine bottle spent five years bobbing across the Atlantic until it was washed ashore this summer on an English beach, where it was picked up by a retired electrician walking his golden retriever.For seven weeks, Tony Hoskings, who lives in
Cornwall, tried to find the note's author. He searched the Internet and sought the help of his local newspaper. This week, he found him - 19-year-old Daniel Knopp, who is a political science major at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.Knopp was a 14-year-old student at Havre de Grace High School traveling with his parents and sister aboard the Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, when he wrote the short note in June, 2004, inserted it in a discarded wine bottle, corked it and tossed it from his family's stateroom balcony.The ship, on a cruise from Baltimore to the Caribbean, had just departed Freeport in the Bahamas."I never thought of it again," Knopp said. "I completely forgot about that day. I thought it would be unreal if it were ever to be found, but I figured it would be destroyed by the ocean environment." It washed up at Perranporth, where Hoskings found it July 18."There is a group of us who walk our dogs on the beach," he said. "I know the bottle washed in that day because the beach is swept clean every day by a machine." Hoskings, who lives in nearby Goonhavern, said he decided to make a family event out of his discovery and waited until his grandchildren came for a visit the next Thursday. When the note wouldn't come out easily, he took a glass cutter and opened the bottle's bottom.The assembled family read the note, which said: "Hello, my name is Daniel Knopp. I am on a cruise ship. I hope whoever reads this finds great joy. God bless. I live in the Baltimore/DC area."The message piqued Hoskings' interest about the sender."It was quite a journey, and if you traveled all those thousands of miles, I think you would want your people to know you had made it safely," Hosking said.He said the green-glass bottle was encrusted with barnacles. It had lost its label but its bar code remained"It was amazing how readable the message was," Hoskings said.He turned to Facebook and found an entry but was not sure it was the right Knopp. He also contacted his local newspaper, the West Briton. A reporter there, Josie Purcell, contacted journalists at The Baltimore Sun.Knopp, who had been a summer intern at Baltimore's City Hall on a mayoral fellowship, turned up on Internet searches and, on Sunday, he confirmed that he was the author of the message in the bottle."It's a very novel story, truly romantic in the classic nautical sense," said Harrison Liu, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean International.

So, besides making me wonder what Tom Sawyer's Facebook page would look like, this makes me think of how cool it must be to be a guy in Cornwall, England, who gets to prowl the beach every afternoon, finding cool stuff that's been washed ashore before rushing home to dinner (Cornish game hen, what else?) Then I got to thinking about how cool it would be to come from a town called Goonhavern (you just know what the nickname for the high school sports team is, don't you?!?!) and then I got to thinking about what messages other people might encase in glass and toss seaward.

HELP PLEASE Trying to provide affordable health care insurance to a vast post-industrial nation...meeting opposition...please advise - BHO, DC

My Husband and I have eight kids and were briefly renowned...fame is fleeting...need help thinking less about our nascent fame and more about the kids...J&K, PA

I quit, I come back, I quit, I come back. I don't know what to do with myself. Is life just a passing fancy? Bret from Mississippi

Hello! I come on TV every afternoon and provide a harrowing glimpse at American jurisprudence, humiliating all who dare seek justice. I'm smarter than everyone. WRITE BACK TO ME! Judge J.

I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star
to steer her by John M.

I just wonder how Huck and Tom would have felt, had the only bottle they had at their disposal once contained Diet Cherry Dr Pepper.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remorse Code

Comes now the time to speak of Joe Wilson - that's Congressman Joe Wilson, from the great state of Sou'Calina, as they say. Saw him speak on tv yesterday evening, and he sure seemed to have a soft, almost epicene tone about his voice. That same voice was used on Wednesday to bark, as we all know, "You lie!" while the president was addressing a joint session of Congress.

I think it's time to move beyond labeling by party. I think it's time to say that any oaf elected to Congress, whether or not he once said "the Confederate heritage is very honorable," would know better than to heckle the president during such an august occasion. And so we enter the September of Rep. Wilson's political career by pointing out that just a year ago, a certain portion of the country was temporarily enchanted by a doltish non-Joe non-plumber, Joe the Plumber. This fall, it's Joe the Plunger. And listen, when you're sitting there with your friends and you shout out and they all look away like they don't know you, you must feel like that guy Steven Adler who got thrown out of Guns n' Roses for overly-avid use of drugs. When those guys tell you you're doing too much heroin...whoo boy!

Oh, here's that story about Joey Reb:
Rep. Joe Wilson is getting his 15 minutes of national fame after bellowing "you lie!" during President Obama's health care address. But Wilson earned notoriety in his home state of South Carolina in the late 1990s when, as a state legislator, he was one of the staunchest defenders of flying the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol. As Firedoglake reported earlier today, citing the blog Inside Charm City, state Sen. Joe Wilson was one of only seven members of the South Carolina Senate to vote to keep the Confederate battle flag flying over the state house in 2000. In April 2000, the Senate voted 36-7 to bring down the flag. But then-Sen. Wilson did more than vote to keep it: he went so far as to appear to defend the Confederacy, declaring that "the Confederate heritage is very honorable."

That's nice, Joe. Support the Confederacy, shout at the first African-American president as if he were one of your poolhall buddies, and oh yeah, don't forget to mention that you are an officer in the Sou'Calina National Guard, which makes Mr Obama not only your president but also your commander-in-chief.


And by the way, it sort of dilutes an apology to say that the party bigshots told you to apologize!

By the time I went on good old Mr Wilson's website, it had already crashed, due to the amount of people wishing to do as I had intended, namely, to thank him for invaluable contributions to the public discourse, and for showing once again that it's not a matter of what party one happens to join. It's whether or not one has manners, decency, and respect. I might disagree with you vehemently...isn't that right, Jeff?...but I will not disrespect you or your right to your opinion. Or shout you down.

It's easier to let some people speak and make fools of themselves, anyway. Isn't that right,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The plane! The plane!

I remember 5/6/78, and 6/7/89, and 8/8/08, and 7/7/07, and even the biggie of them all for lucky numerologists - 7/7/77. But 9/09/09 kinda snuck up on us. At least, it did me; maybe you were more alert.

I did see this little clip about 9/9/09:
it represents the last set of repeating, single-digit dates that we'll see for almost a century (until January 1, 2101), or a millennium (mark your calendars for January 1, 3001), depending on how you want to count it.

I will not see 1/1/2101 from a place where I can run down and buy a newspaper, so if this is the last "Cool" date of our lifetimes together, let it be remembered always that today was the day that a Bolivian hijacked a plane because, according to Brian Williams, he said the date 9/9/9 was like 666 upside down.

And we all know what THAT means.

Another report I heard was that when the man was hauled off the plane by Mexican cops, they said to him, "I can't Bolivia did that." But that's unconfirmed.

From the wires:

The hijacking of an AeroMexico passenger jet bound for Mexico City from Cancun ended peacefully Wednesday with all the passengers and crew members safely released from the plane.

At a news conference, Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said a Bolivian named Jose Mar Flores, 44, hijacked the aircraft using a fake bomb. The hijacker ordered the pilot to circle Mexico City seven times, and said he wanted to warn President Felipe Calderon of an impending earthquake.

Luna called Flores a religious fanatic who commandeered the Boeing 737 after claiming to have received a divine revelation.

How wonderful our world, that a man with a name that translates to Joseph Sea Flowers can have a revelation that requires him to hijack a plane to get word to the president of Mexico that he feels an earthquake coming on.

You can bet they'll still be talking about this one on 10/10/10!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Doggone it, Mom! We had to miss Algebra and everything!

thanks Geri for the cartoon and for having my back!

When I was a kid, back when knights were bold, there were times when we were ushered to the assembly hall at Hampton Elementary School, where the custodian, foregoing or delaying his smoke break down by the boiler, would wheel in a 16" b&W tv and we would all squint at flickering images of an astronaut blasting off or splashing down.

This was considered news. We watched with alacrity. It beat the hell out of long division, and we went back to class, comforted in the knowledge that if we studied hard and maintained diligence and learned all about science and propulsion and followed directions, there was a really good chance that someday, another rocket ship would blast off for the moon, and we'd be watching that one, too.

And so with a certain sadness, I read the comments of some fellow citizens yesterday, who didn't know if it was ok for their kids to watch the president address the nation's schoolchildren, but perhaps it would have been better to have permission slips sent home, so that the parents could decide whether or not this brilliant man, who came from a single-parent home of decidedly lower economic realm, who worked hard enough to earn scholarships, who worked hard at the grassroots level in Chicago and won election to the US Senate and the White House, had something to say inspiring enough to take a few minutes of the school day for little Egbert and Gertrude.

I have the feeling that Mr Obama could go to the beach one afternoon, see a kid drowing in a rip current, dash out and grab him and swim with him back to shore, only to have the O'Hannitys of the nation claim that he brutishly entered the water and dragged the youngster away from his natatorial pursuits.

Sour grapes, Sluggo.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Post Labor Day Version: One o' those quizzes!

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Bear Naked® Granola

2. Where was your profile picture taken? At Jos. A. Bank, being fitted for a new pinstripe suit.

3. Can you play Guitar Hero? Never tried

4. Name someone who made you laugh today? Jerry Lewis

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? The usual 11:15, because it was time for bed then.

6. If you could move somewhere else, would you? When we retire, we'll see....

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? It sure felt like there were fireworks going off!

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you on FaceBook? Sam lives right next door

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? Best to move on.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? I like him a lot; he was able to cure my athlete's foot in no time at all.

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? I am way too tough to shed a tear. Sticking with the answer Sharon left on her survey here; I do not cry.

12. Who took your profile picture? Peggy at the clothing store

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? It was actually my homemade zucchini sauté

14. Was yesterday better than today? Three days I enjoy the most: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

15. Can you live a day without TV? No. Absolutely not. Inconceivable.

16. Are you upset about anything? Nah, what's the use?

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? Love and its little cousin Friendship are the basis of the whole world, so yeah!

18. Are you a bad influence? Hope not

19. Night out or night in? As long as I'm home for the 10 o'clock news

20. What items could you not go without during the day? ok here we go: reading glasses, sunglasses, cell phone, work bag, 4 bottles of water, granola, New Yorker magazine, pc, hand sanitizer...that's just the top of the list, y'unnerstand.

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? Amanda when she had her baby

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? THANX I M FEELING BETTER HAHAHA XOXOX

23. How do you feel about your life right now? Wonderful!

24. Do you hate anyone? Yes, but he's out of office, back in Dallas in disgrace.

25. If we were to look in your FaceBook in box, what would we find? messages from several friends and family

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Clean as a whistle

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? You have GOT to be kidding!

28. What song is stuck in your head? "Don't She Look Good" by Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours

29.m Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m.; whom do you want it to be? Someone coming to tell me I just hit Lotto for a hundred bazillion semolians and I will now be able to buy all the things I want to buy for all the people I love.

30. Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50? It's a bit late to ask me that.

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow: I think I have training in the afternoon.

32. Do you think too much or too little? too much

33. Do you smile a lot? yes. The old piano keyboard is always on display...and why not!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Very Jerry

One of the chief byproducts of this whole being-in-my-late 50's thing is an increased understanding that not everyone will like what I like, nor will I like what everyone else likes, and more important, it doesn't mean doodly squat anyway.

But could I ask for a little love for Jerry
Lewis? The dean (Freudian slip!) of sophisticated, subtly nuanced comedy was born Joseph Levitch, Newark NJ, 1926 (as if you didn't know that as well as your own DOB!). Jerry has been here to entertain you since, well, 1926. Freud would have had a field day analyzing the struggles between Jerry and his father, a vaudeville performer who called himself Danny Lewis, a man who achieved perhaps 1% of the levels his son attained, but who nonetheless ridiculed, scorned and mocked Jerry, and rode his coattails all the way to the peaks Jerry attained. In fact, I can just see old Freud enjoying the transformation scene in "The Nutty Professor."

It should be mentioned here that my neutrality is lost when the topic turns to Jerry. Colossal talent, towering ego, insecurity on parade at all times. He once told a New Yorker interviewer, who happened to have been at one of Jerry's nightclub performances when something technical went wrong, "You have it easy - you don't have to live with Jerry Lewis!"

But it's Labor Day weekend, and while we all mostly have it easy, you know what that means: time for the MDA Telethon. I am not taking sides in this whole thing about people with MD claiming that Jerry is using their medical conditions to raise money to help fight the very conditions that they have. And for those who say he uses this weekend as an annual forum to force his ego on the world, I say maybe so, but at least he will raise 30 million semolians to help fight a disease, and that's more than most of us are doing.

If you like show business, the old-fashioned tuxedo and buck-and-wing dance type, well, there's not much of it left any more, so please enjoy an American original in his natural habitat while you still have the chance to do so.

Here's a little sumpin' to get you in the mood!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

That's All, Folks!

It happens in the best of families, and in the worst, and in the kinda-messed up but basically pretty good except the dad drinks and the mom's a shrill harpie kind of family.

Tastes change, people change their needs and wants, and what good is it to go on living a lie and pretending that our needs are being met and we are satisfied? Better to make a clean break of things and walk away with pride intact.

Therefore, with some regret and a nod to the past but an even firmer nod to the future, I must let you know that Peggy and I are no longer fans of the Woodstown Diner in Woodstown NJ, and have switched our BLT for lunch allegiance to the Elmer
Diner in Elmer, NJ. It's right near where there used to be a Chrysler dealer called Downer Motors, which had to be a really uplifting place to buy a car.

See, Woodstown is on Rte 40, just about 1/2 way on our trip when we go to and from Cape May, NJ. The Woodstown Diner became our favorite place to stop, take a little walk, get a BLT - and until you've had a BLT
with fresh Jersey 'maters in the summertime, you ain't had it all yet! - and go to Tinkletown. But over the past, oh I don't know, several years, the service at Woodstown has become desultory, and the food just not that great.

So, the other week, on the way home, we pulled into the Elmer Diner's parking lot, and I have to tell you, it felt a little odd. On the way back, you go through Elmer before Woodstown, so we ankled on in and had a wonderful meal, served nicely in the traditional diner fashion. The waitress even stopped by a couple of times, solicitously asking if everything was ok: a stark contrast to Woodstown, where you were pretty much on your own once the plates were slid down in front of you.

I don't think that losing our occasional BLT bidness is gonna hurt the old place, just as gaining it will not induce the operators of the new fave to knock out a wall and build a new Vista Room onto the back to handle the overflow crowds. I just thought I'd share how weird it felt to change, but I'm glad we did. I'm a diner kind of guy from a Chez Swank kind of family, and Peggy and I are proud to choose Elmer.

But don't you think that would be the perfect town for a Fuddrucker's franchise?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Griffith Parked

From the pages of "Entertainment Weekly":

Actress Melanie Griffith, 52, has checked into a rehab facility, her rep confirmed on Aug. 25, saying, "This is part of a routine plan that was designed between her and her doctor years ago."

Well, this is stunning. We've reached the point in our therapy where doctors install the failure chip right from the get-go. It's all part of your medical dossier: Griffith, M, 52, annual checkup date, check, post-age-50 colonoscopy date, check, relapse/readmit to rehab, check.

I have nothing against people needing treatment. There are danged few of us who don't need some help for something. But, what's the old saying, If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail! And here, Melanie's doctors are already planning for her to fail, so they plan for her to go back to the clinic. That's where I find fault with this. How about, you go get well and plan to stay that way?

The more you read, the sadder it gets, and I already feel sorry for anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with Don Johnson. The first time she went to rehab, it was for that traditional moviestar problem of an addiction to painkillers that she got on to treat a back injury (1998.) The last time, it was because she admitted she really likes cocaine and booze. (2000).

Griffith once told an Australian magazine that she's "lucky to be alive. I was never as bad as some people I knew, shooting heroin and stuff. But I did do a lot of drinking and cocaine. I just thought I was having a good time."

Maybe if she were to get away from Hollywood, the place about which Oscar Levant said, "When you scrape away all the tinsel and glitter from Hollywood, underneath, there's more tinsel and glitter," she might find the help that repeated trips to rehab have not brought her.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Problem, We Have a Houston

Well, I see on the internets that Chris Brown is steamed at Oprah and Whitney Houston is sore at Oprah, which can only mean one thing: it's September, and time for all-new! Oprah episodes. Soon.

The first story I saw on the fabulous Comcastic home page was about ol' Whitney, who can't quite pull off the high notes as she used to do. Performing for a loyal audience on Good Morning America, she resorted to waving instead of singing, prancing around in leather pants, and introducing her daughter Bobbi Christina as "me and Bobby's baby."

Sic transit gloria, English language.

But the story went on to say that Whitney blamed her poor singing on Oprah Winfrey, because she had to talk to Oprah for the premiere episode of the Oprah gabfest, set to air 9/14. Apparently, talking for a while leads inexorably to sore throats, a fact that, if accepted as medical truth, will surely lead to thousands of workers' comp filings by auctioneers, stag bar barkers, and talk show hosts.

But I hung around the 'nets for a while longer to see the story where Chris Brown has come out swinging on old Oprah. The man who this week was given probation, ordered to stay away from the girlfriend he battered and given other sanctions for domestic violence was complaining that Oprah was mean to him by putting on a show back in March to warn other women that if a man hits you once, he will hit you again. Mr Brown, vying to use the most poorly-chosen metaphor of the year, said that, considering all he had done for Oprah over the years, her actions were a "slap in his face."

Chris. Chris. Chris.

And, English-language lovers, here's your morsel: the woman who presents these celebri-tidbits on Comcastic said that Chris indicated that Oprah should have "showed" him more kindness in his time of trouble.

As I heard on FOX45 News one night, "I guess he should not have went there!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Package Deal

I have long had a suspicion that the same guy who invented the sticker that they stick on fruit that you have to get a putty knife to scrape off your fruit, is also the guy who invented the packaging for CDs that you need burglary tools to open, and also that he had a hand in the creation of those clamshell packages that they put electronic stuff in. So, you get home from the PriceSoLow and you want to try out your new headset or mp3 player or DVD rewinder (great gag gift!) and you need to go down to the basement to get the chisels to get into the clamshell. Perhaps an oyster knife would help...and a little cocktail sauce.

They do sell heavy-duty scissors with spring-loaded action to cut through those packages, but the scissors themselves are packed in those packages, so you're SOL (short on luck) again. Kind of like when I need to adjust the tiny screw in the hinge of my reading glasses, but when I take the glasses off to tighten the screw, I can't see what I'm doing. So my hinge is kind of loose, as you have suspected all along.

BUT NOW! that guy has topped himself. This is his latest creation: the package of shredded
cheese in a ziploc baggie. First, though, one rips off the top, and then you might as well get a seat and wait it out while your thumbs seek purchase on the slippery plastic bag and try to wedge the bag open. If you live near a fire house, run down there and ask if they could open it for you with the Jaws Of Life. And come right back so we can sprinkle some cheddar on our grits. Ummmm ummmmmmm!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Take The High Road

Yesterday and through Thursday, I'm not working at my usual spot. I'm taking a three-day training course for people in my line of work, and the course is being given in the far, far Northwest corner of the county.

As it happens, I live in the far, far Northeast part of the county.

So, it's a matter of choices: to take the Beltway, the big thick superslab that engirdles our town much like a boa constrictor does a baby elephant, from our part of town to the NW corner, and then take a highway from the beltway up to the training ground. go up the country, take country roads that parallel the Beltway (although from a great distance), and then get to see things like horses, farms, and a red
fox dart across the road as I scooted along, CD cranking out everything from The Traveling Wilbury Bros. to Redd Foxx.

Really not much of a choice. The Beltway's vistas are limited to the back ends of filthy semi trucks, cars with oval stickers all over them, and white Chevy vans carrying plumbers, painters and carpenters to their work. All vital travelers, but the fox and I had a much better time of it.

A little town called Butler has enough charm for someone who will never have a butler. I'm more than happy to do my own butling.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let's See What Develops

Something else I miss...the little thrill of going to the drugstore or Sav-No-More to pick up photographs. See, back in the day, you'd take your pictures at family gatherings, supermarket openings, weddings and coronations on a film camera, and then you'd take the roll of film to whatever store and they would send the film off to the lab and then, in three or four days you'd come back and pick up the pix. Now, we take the pictures on a digital camera, pull out a teeny memory card (and lately I do have a teeny memory) and pop that into the pc, digitally altering the photo all we care to, and then electronically send it off to, and then hop in the pick-em-up truck and run over to the 'Mart and park and run in and pick 'em up. The difference is, of course, that we KNOW what the pictures of Uncle Albert and Aunt Halsey will look like. It used to be quite exciting to race out of the store and peel open the gummy flap on the envolope that held your prints, and then look them over (edges only, please!)

Miss Pancake works in the medium of black and white photography as an art form in school; she loathes digital cameras, but she develops her own photos, so at least she gets the fun of sloshing the paper and the film in the photographic developing fluid and seeing the image materialize before her eyes. Therefore, she must also get that movie-kind of redlight
darkroom thrill like they used to get in detective pictures when the evidence linking the crooked bank examiner to the heist came to light. Or like in this case: it looks like the guilty parties are that new family down the street.

You just never know, on the crime beat.