Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday rerun: People I'd rather not be

Everyone doing their own thing, that's what we like to see.  But there are people that I see doing their own things, and while I give them as wide a berth as they need to do so, I can't be like:

  • those guys who take their wives to the Try 'n' Shop and then stand in the parking lot doing their auto maintenance.  Gladys goes in the store, up goes the hood, and they do everything short of overhauling their transmissions right on the lot.  I also see this at work, when men who bring their wives in for meetings or counseling or whatever are out there.  Betcha if someone left a hose out there, a lot of the cars would get washed, too.
  • that mom behind me in line at the grocery store. She was with her high-school age daughter.  She told the cashier, loudly, "I'm going to the rest room and leaving my daughter here with the groceries!  I can't wait! I have to go now!"  This told the world that a) she must feel that her daughter needs help purchasing groceries and b) she feels that we all need to know about her frequency of bathroom use. Ma'am, you embarrassed your daughter in public. Please don't do that any more.
  • those married couples who can sit and eat an entire meal in a restaurant without so much as a word to each other.  Come on now; you must have something to say to her, mister! Even if it's only about how firm your grits are.  And madam, I know it's an unappealing view you are being offered, the top of his head as she shovels peas into his maw, but you could say something! Right?
  • those Bluetooth-equipped people who can't go anywhere in public without making a phone call, topic: nothing.  We don't need to know that your brother-in-law didn't come home until 5 in the morning, or that you couldn't get your meringue to rise for the pie.  
  • those people who say they don't like the holidays and then try to wreck yours with their reasons!  
  • people who are proud of not knowing things, of not reading, of being willfully uninformed.
  • people who turn 60 and decide they are over the hill and might as well just get measured for the final blue suit and the casket this week
  • people who turn 60 and decide this is the time to dress like they're 20 and act like they're 30.  
Not that I know anyone who does any of this, you understand!!! I'm just observing...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Words fail us

expletive: a (usually profane) exclamation
epithet: a disparaging word or phrase
epaulet: a decoration on a shirt's shoulder
epitaph: words on a tomb or gravestone

From these four words, Americans, always linguistically inventive, have coined a new word which we call "epitet."

We have decided to put the four words in a blender and use the result when we want to say, for instance, "The man used an ethnic epithet to describe his new neighbors."  Instead, we say he used an epitet.

It started with spelling; I understand that a certain segment of the teaching profession encourages their young followers to spell creatively now, fearing that asking young Beauregard to spell words correctly would crimp his sense of self-worth.

And then we started allowing mispronunciations, and probably became probly, and Social Security became SoShecurity, and February became Febyooary.  This is at least the "fith or sixt" time I have hollered about the way TV health reporters warn us of "respitory" infections.

So we find ourselves just making up new words, and you might as well tell Beau's math teacher that 6 times 8 equals 57, because he feels it should be.

I could just screen.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ballots and Butthead

Yesterday I had the afternoon free, to go with the morning and evening.  I headed over to the local rec center to vote in the Maryland Primary, which will officially be held on April 3, but you can vote early to avoid the rush.

I parked and began to ankle into the building.  Two men were outside handing out leaflets and they asked, more or less in unison, "Democrat or Republican?" (Apparently they never met me before.) I said I was a Democrat, and the nicer of the two handed me a brochure explaining the reasons why I should vote for Senator Ben Cardin, who is really the only candidate on the bill of fare with even nomimal opposition.

But before I could even tell the man to save the brochure for someone with a less made-up mind, the Republican guy piped up and said, "You're making a big mistake!"

Really, buddy boy?  This is your contribution to democracy in action, to stand and criticize?  I don't know that he is making any friends for his candidate, Rick Santorum, who curses in public, like a galoot.

I don't go to the voting booth to hear guff from some guy.   I am more than willing to discuss politics in a reasonable forum, such as Facebook or emails, but not to be verbally suckerpunched on a rec center parking lot by a representative of a candidate who "almost wanted to throw up" after listening to President John F. Kennedy's speech on religious tolerance, and called President Barack Obama a snob for wanting people to be able to attend college.  See, religious tolerance is no good, and that there education, why that just turns one into one of them liberal know-it-all fellers who just want to come in and vote and all that.

I was around when birth control became available to millions of relieved Americans, and even then, bluenoses like this guy were harping on how licentious a nation we would become.  Even then, I figured everyone ought to worry more about what they're up to and a lot less about everyone else.  It's a lot easier that way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Education marches on

According to our local Patch, the high schoolers over at Perry Hall High School are becoming truculent.  It seems that because school policy forbids kids from hooving on their Marlboro Lights on school property, they stand on the property of other people and get their nico-teen fixes.

I'm sure that if all they did was stand on the lawn, enjoy a leisurely cigarette and move on quietly, there would be no problem.

But that wouldn't be like most teenagers you know, would it?

So the other day, the lady who lives at the house that the students have turned into a smoking area came out and confronted them over it, only to be smacked in the face by a female student, whose parents must be awfully proud of her today.

Read the article and see what you think!

I like the part that says that the school has made many announcements urging the kids to behave.  They couldn't have really thought that was worth the effort, could they?

I will keep an eye on this case, since I have the time now to spend on such things.  Maybe I'll even go to District Court and see the young lady stand trial. I would hope to see her parents apologize to Ms Levin.

I would hope for that.  At the very least, we have to wonder how this whole thing came to blows.

What is wrong with people that they can't leave each other, and each other's property, alone?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ralph Lauren's real name is Ralph Lifshitz

I'm the happiest guy in the world when I can find a bargain!  And now that wearing a polo shirt is about as dressed up as I'm going to be, barring someone being married or buried, the ubiquitous sport shirt is a menu staple for me.
I wear mine without the smirk

In fact, let's take the staples out, just so I don't get stuck, shall we?

I generally find my polos at JC Penney, or online at Eddie Bauer.  But there is a store up in Harford County called Gabriel Brothers  - one of those discount operations that buys up last year's styles and colors before the ritzy Marshall's and swanky TJ Maxx can get ahold of them - that I like to prowl through when we're up that way, and the other night, what did I find there but an entire rack of JC Penney polos.  Many were in my size, which happens to be a notch or two above "medium."  For fifteen semolians, I strutted out of there with three brand-new shirts - in the fashionable pistachio, ruby, and sea green colors.

Flour power
What's great about a $4.95 polo shirt is, you can feel all nice about wearing it, and even if you get barbecue sauce all over it or something, you're only out $4.95 if the stain remover doesn't work.  And if a fur protester tosses flour all over you, as just happened to Kim Kardashian, well, you just throw it in the laundry and away you go.

I have reached out to Kim in solidarity, but she demanded to know what solidarity was.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm exhausted

I read that the big auto manufacturers are tearing their hair out, and having meetings and doing research, because young people are just not that interested in cars anymore. 

For one thing, you have to have a lot of training if you want to do anything in the way of auto maintenance that's more complicated than changing the oil or the radio station presets. 

For another, people today aren't even all that interested in driving, let alone buying a new car to do it in.  The price of gas, and tolls, and constraints on our time have put an end to cruising, Sunday rides in the country, and bombing around for the heck of it.  Today, we have a purpose when we get behind the wheel and strap in, and our GPS tells us when and where to turn, and we doggone well better do as the voice says, or catch hell.

We can all recall the days when a guy would get an old Chevy, drop a really hot engine in it, and tear up the local roads and highways going really fast. Today, what few guys fool with their cars at all seem to concentrate only on the exhaust system, so that a four-door Hyundai sedan pulling up next to you sounds like it's going to be going really fast as soon as the light changes...and then it doesn't.

It just sounds really fast. That hot exhaust sure gets lots of admiring glances, and the driver can soak them all up, since he's only going about 38 miles an hour!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trash talk

Friday morning, I took Peggy to work so that I could round her up later to go to the annual Smith College Used Book Sale out at the fairgrounds, an event we never miss.

But on the way home, I had to deal with traffic going the other way, and when I got close to home there was a slight backup because of the presence of the trash truck on Summit Avenue.

The guy who rides the back of the truck was grabbing the bags and cans, tossing garbage into the giant maw of the truck, while at the same time trying to direct traffic around it!  He was giving another driver the "Come on!" wave, and a woman driving a Volvo wagon was reluctant to heed his advice.  So she sat and we all sat, and finally the guy  - still working all along - turned back to her and began giving the same sort of signals that a third base coach gives to a runner rounding the bag and heading for home.  At last emboldened, she drove along, and the traffic began to flow again.

Because I seem unable to refrain from commenting on everything anymore, I put my window down and said to the guy, "People need to listen to what you're trying to tell them!"

And he said, "People don't want to listen to me; I'm just a trash man."

Just a trash man?  Can you imagine the howling that would have ensued if just once he and his coworkers decided not to show up for work, and when citizens called up the County howling that their bags and cans were still sitting by the curb, they were told there would be no "trash man" for them that day?

I don't think we should look down on anyone doing any honest work. I think that neighborhood watch groups should be set up to keep an eye on crooks like the people at Goldman Sachs.  They are the people who should feel our disdain, not a guy who's out there slinging the Heftys and trying to help people drive around the truck.

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit that the following people could take off and fly beyond the moon without their absence affecting the quality of our lives one iota:

Any cast member of any "Real Housewives" show.  Arnold Schwarzenegger. Harold Camping. Any Kardashian.  Julie Chen. The inventor of pink slime. Hank Williams, Jr. Sean Hannity. Ann Coulter. Adam Lambert.

In fact, we could get along without any singers, dancers, actors or entertainers, but try going a few weeks without people who pick up the trash, plow the streets (if it ever snows again), ride the fire engines and medic units, enforce the laws, and heal the sick and the disenchanted.

I once lived in a place with no trash pickup.  Every week, everyone had to go to the County Dump and toss their garbage. No one liked it. I don't recommend it. 

The people who gather our garbage deserve a thanks now and then. On the hottest day of summer, I like to leave them a disposable foam cooler iced down with six chillers for later.

I have never left a can of beer where Sean Hannity could get to it, even though it might improve his delivery and his consciousness.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

No Good Reason

Martin (l), Zimmerman (r)
The tragedy of what happened to young Trayvon Martin in Sanford FL is the sad result of several bad concepts.  By now you have heard the story - after a run to the 7-11, Trayvon was heading back to his father's house with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea when a guy from a neighborhood watch challenged his right to walk down a public street in America and, unsatisfied with Trayvon's continuing to mind his own business, shot the youth dead.

George Zimmerman is the bully who did this despicable deed.  You can hear the tapes of his calls to 911 here. What we have here is a case in which this Zimmerman, self-appointed as the eyes and ears of the cops,  decides he's Dirty Harry or something.  You can hear him on the phone to 911 and he uses horrible language to describe Trayvon.  You hear the gunshot. You can hear in the voices of others calling 911 the terror brought to the neighborhood by this heinous act.

Zimmerman, Super Fake Cop, had no business stalking around out there with a gun.  When he calls 911 he starts off talking about how there have been break-ins in the area and he sees this "suspicious" subject - a thin young man walking around with his Skittles and his iced tea, for the love of God. These neighborhood watch programs can be beneficial IF and only IF they serve as the eyes and ears of the real police.  Clearly, they can be the worst thing possible if they go around shooting people on the street.  There is no reason for fake cops to be running around with real bullets, and what happened here is the sad proof.

The city of Sanford FL chose not to prosecute Zimmerman.  For one reason, they said he had a "squeaky clean record" (their words to Trayvon's mother), which apparently is in conflict with Zimmerman having been arrested in 2005 on charges of resisting arrest with violence and battery on a law enforcement officer, charges that were later dropped.

For another reason, the state of Florida has a dumb law on the books called the "stand your ground" law. It states that you can shoot a guy if you feel your personal safety is in jeopardy.  Surely the wise framers of this law might have looked down the road and seen that it would be someday be used as a blanket to cover up the sick stupid deed of a gozzlehead like this Zimmerman, who shot a young man for no good reason and is since in hiding behind a law that exists for no good reason.

Gun lovers, here is your chance to explain to me why a man like this is allowed to walk around carrying a gun so that he, in the name of some vigilante posse organization, is allowed to kill with it.  Come on, tell me and tell Trayvon's family why you think the US Constitution really meant to give to this ass a weapon, since his militia was clearly not well regulated.  Come on and tell me how you love them guns, now.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Robert DeNiro's Waning

I've never been a huge fan of Robert DeNiro.  I don't tend to see a lot of his movies, and I think his whole image of "I'm the greatest actor in the world" is sort of off-putting.  And I don't think he ever said that he is the greatest actor, although I've little doubt that he feels that way.

I did enjoy the song that Bananarama did in his honor, though.

I'm not sure just what it takes to be the greatest actor in the world.  I guess it has something to do with making the audience suspend their knowledge of who the person on the stage (or the screen, large or small) really is.  For instance, the Meryl Streep that we see on talk shows, self-effacing and modest, is far from the person we see portraying Yolanda Johnson in the "A Prairie Home Companion" movie, and that persona is not easily confused with her characterization of Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady."  But in every Robert DeNiro movie, you always expect him to say, "You talkin' to me?"  Judging from the clips I've seen.

Another thing I don't care for about him is his supercilious attitude toward things he regards as being beneath him, such as appearing on Letterman to beat the drum for a movie in which he acts. Clearly he regards the medium of television to be beneath him. Case in point: in 2010, when "Little Fockers" was coming out, he and co-star Dustin Hoffman showed up on "Late Night" late one night and DeNiro made an absolute patootie of himself.  He dripped with disdain, like syrup off a short stack at IHOP. He slouched on Dave's sofa, acted like he was forced at gunpoint to be there, and mumbled stupid answers.  Hoffman tried to act like a professional but, being in awe of DeNiro's superiority in all things show-biz, sat and giggled at his buddy's ignorance.

Well then.  All this scorn I feel for DeNiro came a bubblin' up this week because he acted like a patootie again at an appearance before our first lady, when he said, "Do you think America is ready for a white first lady?"

Bob.  Bobby. Robert.  Whatever it is that you like to be called...for your information, the rest of us are trying to move past that form of identification.  It's 2012 now and we don't refer to people as "that black third baseman" or "that white guy who works at Safeway" or "that black president."  In fact, it's a little odd to say, but when my right-leaning friends refer to the president as a "radical Muslim socialist fascist neo-Nazi who wants to turn this country into another failed Euro-style autocracy," even though they are wrong six ways from Sunday, at least they aren't making it about his race.

Learn from them, Robert, Robbie, Mr D, whatever.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This is hard to swallow

Twilight of the Odds
I'm sort of happy to see a new fad among the Youth Of America that does not involve permanent skin markings, drug consumption, or reading books about vampires who have girlfriends and really great hair.

Back in the day, college kids swallowed live goldfish, and no, we're not talking about the ones from Pepperidge Farm here.   And they tried to cram a couple of dozen of themselves into a Volkswagen or a phone booth, or they participated in marathon dances, or they wore zoot suits or raced slot cars.  

And these people became parents and forgot about having any fun!

Today's generation seems to be learning some things. Teenage smoking (cigarettes) is down in many places and high school graduation rates are up. And it's good that the kids stay in school so they can find out about the Cinnamon Challenge.

The cinnamon challenge is a fad that gets people to dare each other to get a spoonful of cinnamon down their necks in a minute - without the use of any liquid.  'Tain't as it easy as it might seem!

If you click on the link above, Wikipedia will tell you that it's hard to get the cinnamon down the gullet because it dries the mouth right on out, and there stands the poor participant, with a mouthful of spice and a cloud of reddish coughing forming in front of him...just as the girl he's been trying to impress ankles up on the scene.  That's one reason not to take this dare; the other is even worse than looking like a goober in the hallway outside the chem lab.  You might choke or give yourself liver damage, or wind up in the hospital like a kid in Michigan did, with an infection and a collapsed lung. 

So all of a sudden, cramming into a VW Beetle or swallowing a goldfish seems a like a lot better idea, huh?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's the point?

It's the mark of a good wordsmith to be able to say a lot in just a few words.  This is why I am not a good wordsmith, because I do go on and on and on. But at least I try to avoid talking or writing or texting or semaphoring in jargon such as...

"The price point on this car is just over 29K."

This means that the price of the car in question is over $29,000.  This price point business - it's cropping up all over the place. People are saying it in automobile showrooms, real estate offices, and a woman showing a line of cosmetics used it the other morning on "Good Morning America." 

At first I thought, maybe I missed something, and this term means something more than just the word "price." Or, maybe there was a new beach down in Southern Maryland called Price Point.  I didn't know, so I went to Wikipedia and found a scholarly treatise about it:

Price points are prices at which demand for a given product is supposed to stay relatively high.
Introductory microeconomics depicts a demand curve as downward-sloping to the right and either linear or gently convex to the origin. The downwards slope generally holds, but the model of the curve is only piecewise true, as price surveys indicate that demand for a product is not a linear function of its price and not even a smooth function. Demand curves resemble a series of waves rather than a straight line.

They even had a little graph to illustrate this point, but frankly, you and I know exactly what that paragraph meant, don't we?  I mean, from our deep involvement in introductory microeconomics, we know that the downward slope generally holds, and also that the knee bone is connected to the shin bone.

So I called a lifeline and asked a buddy just what the dickens all that meant.  Speaking very slowly and carefully, as he would when reminding a nine-year-old not to stick a fork into an electrical outlet, he told me that it's all about how much a seller can raise the price before people stop shelling out for what they're selling.  As in, I notice that Breyer's Ice Cream is now as much as $6.19 for what's not even a half-gallon any longer.  And yet, at this very moment, cows are being milked and that cream is being churned and vanilla farmers are hauling beans to market and the nation's fudge mines are being stripmined because people will pay $6.19 for a carton of Vanilla Fudge Chunk.

That's your price point, right there.  If they try to get $6.49 for the ice cream, people might switch to Blue Bunny or Hershey's, leaving Breyer's out in the cold, so to speak.

Our friends over at the Urban Dictionary, far less prolix, define price point as "BS talk for price... to emphasize a limited vocabulary." 

Remember, we all might wind up like Eddie Murphy in that movie he has coming out in which he is limited to a certain amount of words before he kicks the bucket.  Save your words!  Don't call a store a "brick-and-mortar store," or the guy who brings the mail to your office an "information promulgator"!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

No means no

There came a time in my former employment that the County saw fit to make me a supervisor, and we both learned a lot from that experience.

Not everyone learns.

When the topic turns to sexual harassment prevention, and how the training is conducted, it would pay for more people to sit up and pay attention.  The point that the instructors keep trying to make is that it really doesn't matter if the things you say or do or exhibit are things that you don't consider offensive.  It's what the recipient thinks, and that's as it should be.

Consider this case out in LA. This firefighter had already suffered enough by being the victim of sexual abuse as a child.  When it became public knowledge that he had been a victim, clearly making jokes about it was stupid...and wrong...and illegal. 

And it gets even worse when someone comes to their supervisor and reports harassment on the job.  Failure to act on the part of the supervisor will cost many people in many ways.  Apparently, this firefighter did that and nothing was done about it, and now the taxpayers will have to shell out beacoup dolares to settle a matter that should have been nipped in the bud.

The standard case is, a female comes to work in a hitherto all-male workplace.  She is offended by Playboy centerfolds displayed publicly, by being called untoward names and by being given the raw deal in other ways.  It's bad enough when her coworkers are behaving so crudely, but when she reports their actions to the supervisor, it is incumbent upon that person to take corrective action.

The interesting point here is that this is also reflected in other parts of society.  "Majority rules" is the policy in elections, but it's not how we set rules.  This is why public schools can no longer endorse a certain religion. It doesn't matter if 99 students out of 100 are of that persuasion.  If it makes someone feel excluded or diminished, it's not going to be permitted.

In my time, I have seen the days when people of different races, sexual orientations, faiths, and national origins have been brutalized - physically and emotionally - and to make it even worse, it was permissible by law.  Not so any longer, and for that, we thank the progressive movement, which continues to bring America out of the past and into a brighter future.

Monday, March 19, 2012

As Easter approaches...

Here's a sad story right off the Google:

COLORADO SPRINGS - The annual Old Colorado City Easter Egg Hunt has been canceled because organizers say parents were getting too aggressive.Organizer Dave VanNess said the event has been held for a decade, but it has grown so big and parents were getting so aggressive he cancelled it.

VanNess said the event was creating more hard feelings instead of the fun they've always intended.

According to KKTV-TV, parents were supposed to stay behind a rope, but many broke that rule making things overcrowded and chaotic.

Parents?  What's up??  Are you all so hyperinvolved with your progeny that you can't stand behind a rope line and watch them cavort happily for Easter eggs?  Must you helicopter over them 24-7-366 (Leap Year!) to snoopervise every aspect of their lives?  Is there nothing that can be left to the childrens' devices?

When I was in 9th grade, two rumors swept the student population at dear old Towsontown Junior High. One was that an aspirin tablet dropped into a Coca-Cola would induce such an aphrodisiac effect on an unwitting female as to make any member of that gender "ours" at any party, dance or supermarket opening.  The other one turned out to be untrue as well; it claimed that on a certain Friday morning, Martians were coming to Earth to take all of us young people back to their far-off planet and allow us to grow up in peace.  That never happened, and it's just as well: many of us planned to give Martian women coke 'n' aspirin cocktails to see if we could get intergalactically lucky.  And you know that would have turned out not so well.

But the idea of the second rumor has some validity to those who see how some people act around their kids. Many friends have told me that parents can be insufferable at Little League or rec soccer games.  They hurl both epithets and drink containers at the umpire or referee, they belittle their own children, they howl at a decision that goes against "them," and they have been known to attack physically opponent children and parents.

And that's all in the name of modeling good behavior as they raise little Bud or Sis.

So, let's try to make 2012 The Year That Parents Let Kids Be Kids, and maybe Old Colorado City can have their Easter egg hunt again in 2013.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday rerun: High School Consequential

High school teachers, please don't think I'm grinding on you here.  I think my concern is more with our culture overall.  

You see, the other day I was talking with a man of about 30; he was a graduate of one of our local private high schools, and I asked him if he knew that the school was located right across the street from the house occupied by Spiro T. Agnew back in the day.

"I've never heard of Spiro Agnew," he pointed out.

"What kind of education excludes learning about Nixon/Agnew/Watergate, etc?" I asked myself.  I've long since learned that people don't really appreciate these questions, no matter how valid I find them.

I get into this all the time with Peggy, and her point is that people don't tend to learn about things that occur before their birth.   My rejoinder is that if that were true, no one would know much about the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and the Monroe Doctrine.

Her rejoinder is that no one really does.

So, teachers, why not?  We've argued about the way schools teach math these days, with less reliance on basic arithmetical principle and more concentration on just how all those digits make up a Facebook status change.  We've been all over English.  I mean that in every sense of the word; I believe that each and every day, our lovely language is dragged down to the town square and beaten to within an inch of its life by television hosts, athletes, and the people who write commercials for television hosts and athletes to read. How a person can sit there and read aloud "A portion of all the donations go to charity in your area" without decrying the lack of subject-verb agreement is beyond me.  How a person can fail to comprehend basic English words is also beyond me.  And how the schools can hand a diploma to someone who cannot write a simple declarative sentence is so far beyond me, it would take extra postage to get me there.  

But history?  Don't we want the children to know about how we got to where we are? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said George Santayana, to which I can only add, "How can one remember the past if one's school focused their curriculum on the teaching of tone poems and performance art?"

Just for those unfamiliar, Spiro T. "Spiro" Agnew was a local politician here who took sacks full of money from paving contractors while in several high-ranking offices, was chosen by Richard M. "Dick" Nixon to be his vice-president because "No assassin in his right mind would kill me, because then they'd get Agnew as president" (as Nixon was quoted by felon John Ehrlichman) and then Agnew resigned the office in disgrace when the Feds finally brought him down on tax evasion charges, and later Agnew wrote an autobiography which implied that Alexander Haig told him to "go quietly...or else" when the G-Men showed up with the papers.

That's a story worthy of repeating, so that today's youth will learn not to repeat it.  Or something.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

My question

Good Morning America had a story the other day about a man who broke into a house occupied by several female college students.  The hook on the story was that while he roamed the house, binding the women's hands, another of the U of Washington students was on the phone to 911, and the cops were sent to round the guy up and send him off to the bing for a long, long time.  No one was assaulted or injured during the invasion, a fact that is bound to be brought up by whichever member of the legal profession gets to defend the man in court.  His name is Robert Douglas Hitt. 

You can't blame the 5-0 for being a little tired of hauling this criminal into court.  After all, the guy just got out of the hoosegow in January after serving 10 years for first degree rape.

My question is, why was he out?

Remember the kid down the street when you were growing up, the one whose mom said "All right, Larry: no more TV for one month for you!" right after he got caught jumping off the garage using a sheet of plywood to aid in his descent.  And then, next morning before homeroom, he'd be talking about how funny it was the night before on "Green Acres" when Eb and Lisa fooled Oliver into showing up for his surprise birthday party.

Obviously, his mother's punishment sure meant a lot.

Now, Hitt moved to the Big House in 2002 and was released, as we say, this past January.  I guess they figured that he was all rehabilitated and everything, so why keep him locked up when he clearly deserved to return to his place in society.  Why, only last Thursday, he finished a sex-offender treatment program!

This makes me heterodox with - at odds with - my usual liberal outlook on things, but I can't understand the thought processes of the people who run the jails and prisons.   This Hitt raped a woman in 2001!  He should not be out on the streets in 2012, or 2032.  To me, you commit an unforgivable sin, you stay where the other unforgivables are: behind bars.

Not enough room in prison?  Close down the libraries and the gymnasia. Let them sleep in shifts, like on a World War II Navy ship, and while they're not sleeping, they can be making license tags or weaving blankets or picking up trash from the highway.

Call me old-fashioned, but someone should have told this guy a long time ago that we as a society do not approve of rape and breaking-and-entering and binding women at knifepoint.  He had his punishment and a second chance that I never would have let him have.  Should there be a third chance?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Corporations are peepholes, my friend

Did you see the story where a guy who was a derivatives vice-president at Goldman Sachs says that he resigned (after making a fortune there for 12 years) because he suddenly found that all the people there were interested in making money, and did not put their clients first?  His name is Greg Smith and he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times this week about how evil his coworkers were.

Imagine the shock!  A company is out to make a buck, well, several million bucks a minute.  Goldman Sachs is the honorable firm that had the honor of a paying a $550 million dollar fine a couple of years ago for misleading the investors, and now, hold the presses! They're in business to make money off people who invest their money to make more money than people who just put their money in the bank, or a mayonnaise jar.

I await the fallout.  Next thing you know, leading executives at McDonald's will quit because they came to realize that the Golden Arches are selling beef.  Bigwigs at Wendy's will blurt that Wendy's hair was not really red.  Baskin will reveal that he never could stand Robbins, and General Motors will finally have to quit making Buicks, thereby depriving the over-80 set of their favorite ride.

Corporations are people, my friend.  A very wise man said that last summer at the Iowa State Fair.  Corporations are people, and heaven knows, people have their problems. I am certain that Mr Greg Smith will be giving away his vast fortune, all accrued during his time at Goldman Sachs, as he shudders to see the ill-gotten gains that now sadden him so.

Mr Smith, could you write me a check?  I want to help you feel better!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Splitting Hairs

B. Jones
In our culture, we don't always name hairdids anymore, especially the ones for men.  Used to be, a man could go into a barbershop and ask for a flat top or a Chicago box-car, which was a flattop with long sides and a duck's ass in back.  Or he could say he wanted a Prince Valiant, most notably worn by Brian Jones.  Or of course, there was always the Full Elvis, with the pompadour, slicked sides and a d.a. with sideburns.

D. Beckham
And don't forget the traditional wiffle, or buzz, cut.  I don't know where that name "wiffle" came from, but it's what you get when you just run the clippers all over your melon and cut it down to the lowest length.  This look is popular among David Beckham, Sinead O'Connor, and every male member of the armed forces during their basic training.


Lately I see a lot of guys - mainly in what I refer to as the "non-retired," or "still working" age group - wearing what I refer to as the "Skeezix" haircut.  That's the one where the hair is pretty short all over and the barber leaves enough at the very front to grab and freeze with hair goo, leaving a look like the picture on the button at right.  That's Skeezix from the Gasoline Alley comic strip.  I know it's an old comic, but everything old comes back again, if you give it enough time.

Isn't that right, Moe?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Do's and Don'ts of Walking

Today on my walk I decided to go for a Theme Walk. So I loaded up the iPod and spun around to the D's: specifically, songs whose titles started with "Do" and "Don't."

Now that I am retired, I have time to think of these things.

Anyhow, here is the bill of fare to which I paraded around the neighborhood:

Do I Love You - The Ronettes
Do It Again - The Beach Boys
Do Wacka Do - Roger Miller
Do What You Do Do Well - Ernest Tubb
Do What You Gotta Do - Tom Jones
"  "   "        "         "     - Al Wilson
Do You Remember These - The Statler Brothers
Do You Know the Way to San Jose - Dionne Warwick
Do You Wanna Dance - Beach Boys
Do You Wanna Touch Me - Joan Jett

and then I skipped over Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger (Charley Pride), Dog and Butterfly (Heart) and Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague (Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention) to get to

Don't - Elvis
Don't - Sandy Posey
Don't be Cruel - Elvis
Don't Change on Me - Ray Charles
Don't Cry, Daddy - Elvis
Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House
Don't Expect Me to Be Your Friend - Lobo
Don't Fear the Reaper- Blue Öyster Cult
Don't Fence Me In - Bing Crosby
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) - Mötley Crüe
Don't it Make You Wanna Go Home - Joe South
Don't Just Stand There - Patty Duke
Don't Let Go - Weezer
Don't Look Back - The Temptations
Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick
Don't Put Onions on your Hamburger - MAD magazine
Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby - The Cookies
Don't She Look Good - Ernest Tubb
Don't Sleep in the Subway - Petula Clark
Don't Take it so Hard - Paul Revere and the Raiders
Don't Think Twice (It's All Right) - Jerry Reed
Don't Waste My Time - John Mayall
Don't Worry, Baby - Beach Boys
Don't You (Forget About Me) - Simple Minds
Don't Try to Lay No Boogie Woogie on the King                  of Rock and Roll - Long John Baldry
Don't You Believe Her - Nat Stuckey

He saved us from Walkmen
That was a good time!  You might call this an eclectic list...but going from, say, Patty Duke (yes, that Patty Duke) to, say, Weezer is like being at a buffet and going from the sweet and sour chicken to the spicy shrimp in one bite.

And just think - tomorrow when I walk, the first song up will be "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" by The Swinging Medallions.

But for right now, so you won't feel left out, here's the original album ("Uncle Meat") cut of Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague.  Please hear my plea!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boss Tweeds

I guess it's reality TV, if you need to specify the genre, but it doesn't have any Kardashians, and hardly any fishing, and no icy roads at all, so I like to watch "Undercover Boss" when someone interesting is on.

The premise of the show is very simple.  The head cheese of some big company puts on a disguise and works among hoi polloi, so as to get a little taste of life on the other side of the assembly line, pizza oven or fish nets.

The setup never varies.  The show opens with a look at the company involved, and then we meet the HPIC* who talks a bit about how well the company is doing, but he/she thought it would be a good idea to leave the home office for a couple of days and work with people who actually do the work.  So the boss gets fitted for hair extensions, or a toupee in the case of a man experiencing baldness, and they add or remove facial hair, glasses, and color the hair.  Slip Mr or Ms Big into a company uniform or whatever mufti they wear delivering pizzas, and away we go!

They always come up with a cover story for the people on the job site, lest they become concerned as to why there are 27 cameras pointed at them.  They say that they are part of a reality show where one lucky guy just won his own Domino's franchise and is learning to make pizzas and drive real fast with pizzas in his car so as to run the place.   Or that they are shooting a reality show about people whose businesses went under and are trying to get back in the game in this new line of work.

The hitch is, it has to be a huge company for this to work.  I mean, if you're the head sandwich maker at Nick 'n' Tony's Deli, and you come to work one day and neither Nick nor Tony are around but you see someone who looks a lot like Tony prowling around trying to slice prosciutto, you're gonna get wise in a hurry, you know what I'm saying to you here?  But if you are one of 83,000 burger flippers working for Checkers, and the boss looks like the guy on the left above, and then one day a guy in a red shirt and vest is introduced to you as a new trainee who used to run a Blockbuster, you'll go for it, sure as heck.

So, the tycoon reports to work and there's always a problem, always a complaint.  Working conditions are awful, the equipment is so bad that "I have to bring in my own cleaning supplies from home" (Popeye's) or "I can't hear the customers in the drive-thru line" (Checkers.)  We get to hear the personal problems of the people tasked to work with El Supremo, and that comes in handy later.

As does all the pointing-out-of-problems, because like in last week's episode about Oriental Trading Company - America's #1 source for inflatable golf clubs, giant gag eyeglasses and pink lawn flamingos - the guy loading the truck on a day when the temperature hit 103° told the cheese that they used to get free sports drinks when it was that hot.  The boss is then shown in deep remorse as he realizes that it was his idea, when the economy hit the skids, to cut back on the free electrolyte replacements.  Hey, it's never 103° in the boardroom!

Then all the employees are called to the home office, and the big shot prances in and watches the dawn of recognition break across their furrowed brows.  He/she then earnestly avows to take their suggestions and complaints to heart, hands out money for cars, scholarships and medical bills, and there you are for another week.

Peggy was asking what percentage of the promises of sweeping reform benefiting the working person I thought were actually carried out.  I guess 50-50, but maybe that's high. Or low. I have to figure that at least once, as soon as the camera crew drove away, some boss said, "That guy in Omaha who said I made pizza like a drunken aardvark...get him in here...NOW!"

Tune in next week for our new hit series "Unemployment."

*HPIC= Head Person In Charge

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bag man

We talked a few days ago about the goofy goin's-ons down in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.  Hot-a'mighty, they're going crazy down there!

Place #1, they still haven't replaced the county councilman who left that august body to serve his jail time for tax evasion.  And just as I figured, they seem to be planning to wait until he comes back and takes his rightful place on the council.  Why not? The remaining six members can't break this 3-3 deadlock in the vote to replace him.

That's small potatoes in a county whose chief cash crop used to be tobacco. The big news is that the County Executive, one John Leopold, was indicted recently for such peccadilloes as:
  • Having county cops drive him to mall parking lots so he could have sex with one of his lady friends
  • Having his police security guards drive him around pre-dawn during the election campaign so he could hop out and pull his opponent's campaign signs out of the ground
  • Having his police security guards keep a watch on his hospital room as he recovered from back surgery so that his one girlfriend, a county employee, would not come in contact with his live-in girlfriend
  • and finally, as they said in Animal House, individual acts of profound and disgusting...that decorum prohibits listing them here.  But then they go ahead and list them: he required his staffers to empty his catheter bag as he continued to recover from his surgery.
Truly, a fine gentleman, this Mr Leopold.

Also being dragged through the fine red mud of Anne Arundel County soil is the Chief of Police, James Teare Sr.  The indictment against Leopold states that the cops forced to do all those dumb duties for Leopold complained to their superiors, including the chief, and their complaints fell on fallow ground. Two police unions have recently taken votes of no confidence on his chiefiness.

It's a sad situation in AA Co, so for a bit of comic relief, let's turn to Councilman John Grasso, who, you will recall, called certain parts of his own county "a ghetto" and questioned the need for diversity - stating that anyone who inferred racism in any comment made by any other person was, ipso facto, a racist.

Robert Duvall will play Leopold in the movie
Uh huh.

So we leave you with Mr Grasso's statesmanlike take on the county executive's philandering in a county car.  He said it was speculation, motivated by the unions.  "It sounds like it's good, juicy reading material," he told the Baltimore SUN.  "But you don't know if it's true or not.  John Leopold is 69 years old. If he can still work it like that at the age of 69, good for him.

Click here to hear the 911 call and subsequent police activity from 2009 when a citizen reported "nekkid" people having sex in a car - reported to be the county executive's car - outside of Nordstrom in Annapolis.  Man, it's really true. You can get anything at Nordstrom's.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday reun: Here's the scoop

Next time you run over to Java The Hut for a cuppa' joe, why not order a nice steaming (!) cup of Civet coffee? Sounds great, huh? Make mine strong, please, and plenty of half and half.

In fact, if you're pouring mine, just give me a cup of half and half and hold the civet coffee. As you'll see here, it's pretty daggone expensive stuff. But, you say, coffee is an essential part of my lifestyle, so what does it matter if the price is a little steep? Bring it on, and how about an almond biscotti with that?

Civet coffee is the new rage among the coffee drinkers who really want to be on the cutting edge of the new coffee rage. What it is, is coffee berries that have been eaten whole and then allowed to pass undigested through the digestive system of the civet cat. Then someone who really really hates his or her job a thousand times more than you could possibly despise yours has to pick the berries out and roast them.

Then someone packs the beans in a bag and charges you 25 or 40 dollars a pound for it.
And you ask why I stick with Lipton Tea?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday rerun: 21 Jump Over The Counter Street

I see they're coming out with a movie version of the old TV show with Johnny Depp, "21 Jump Street."  Here's a Saturday rerun from July, 2009, just because...

In Bob Greene's book "Billion Dollar Baby," about his time as a Plimptonian member of Alice Cooper's band, participating as a journalist, there is a passage about the band members meeting some kids from Akron, Ohio. Now, you have to remember, this is all set in 1974...just a few short years past the Summer of Love ('67) and Mac and Katie Kissoon's immortal recording of "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep ('71.) Different times, for sure.

But in this scene, as the local scrabble mobs around Cooper's troupers, the kids are telling the band that they just know they're going to take all the money they earn from record sales, concert grosses, foreign royalties, and the like, and invest it all in peaceful alternatives so that all men can learn to live like brothers, and put an end to war, and then we can like paint rainbows on our faces and dance in the moonlight...after electing Donovan as Secretary of Defense.

This Donovan, not that Donovan...that one plays on offense.
Anyway, the band members (including Mike Bruce,the guitarist best remembered today for a) not being allowed to plug in his guitar during a concert, so maladroit was he as a guitarist and b) being described by Greene as "being built like a cigarette machine") all acted like yeah, man, that was the plan; all this loot was going right to building a great big sky full of love, peace and happiness for all mankind. But, pointed out the writer, the kids would have been crushed to find out that the band's income went directly to the purchase of apartment complexes and shopping centers.

So much for the dream of the big butterfly dropping petals of love across the nation.
I was thinking of all this idealism because I see the hype is already kicking in for the new Johnny Depp movie in which he portrays John Dillinger, the noted gangster/bank robber/murderer from the 1930s. Depp, who lives in France (!), posits that Dillinger was like a Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. I've been studying Dillinger since I was a kid, and none of this is true. Neither is that other rumor that always goes around, for that matter.

John Dillinger did have a certain flair for the flamboyant public gesture. He knew there was something catchy about vaulting over the counter into the teller's area to scoop up the loot. He would gladly pose with hicktown sheriffs, acting all buddy-buddy. And there were stories about him leaving his overcoat draped over the shoulders of a woman he had, moments before, robbed.

But there is no reason to believe that Dillinger ran around handing out the money he had just stolen from banks in the Midwest to the families of starving farmers and out-of-work accountants. He much preferred lavishing the bucks on ill-bred strumpets such as Billie Frechette, a hatcheck girl who accompanied him almost to the grave, and the purchase of expensive automobiles.
The Alice Cooper Band and John Dillinger were in the businesses they were in for the money, for themselves. Just like any other profit-making enterprise, be it Joe's Corner Deli or General Motors.
Well, you know what I mean.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Here's the scoop

I once got clopped on the head and was paid off in a lump sum.

But here's a woman whose lump sum would bring a smile to anyone.  Meet Louise White, who went to the Stop & Shop up in Newport, RI, on a mission to buy some rainbow sherbet.  While she was there, she bought three Powerball tickets, and wouldn't you know, two of them were no good, except as bookmarks.

But the third one was the third-biggest winner in the history of Powerball, 336 million semolians worth of winner.  Even though she took the $210 million payout rather than the annuity, she still was able to throw the losing tickets away, since she can now afford to hire people to keep track of her place in books, instead of flimsy bookmarks.  In honor of her newfound wealth, she set up the Rainbow Sherbert Foundation to manage the loot.

Check the article closely, and you'll see evidence of one of the great controversies raging in this nation today.  Even more of a puzzle than which of her Cadiallacs Ann Romney ought to drive to her Stop&Shop is the ongoing debate between saying "Sherbet" and "Sherbert."

So here is what we know about Sherbet from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

sherbet, Raspberry sherbet.
[Credit: Renee Comet/National Cancer Institute] frozen dessert usually flavoured with fruit, made from water, sugar, flavourings, and milk or cream. Egg white or gelatin may be added to ensure a fine texture. Sherbets may also be flavoured with wine or liqueurs. By U.S. federal regulation, sherbets must contain a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 2 percent butterfat. Water ice, called in French sorbet and in Italian granita, is similar to sherbet but contains no dairy ingredients.
The word sherbet derives from the Persian sharbat, an iced fruit drink; iced desserts were introduced to the West via the Middle East. In the late 20th century there was a revival of the practice of serving a tart sherbet or sorbet between the courses of an elaborate meal to refresh the palate.

We imagine that Americans started saying "sherbert" because there were so many people named Herbert.  Let's see, there was Herbert Hoover, unsuccessful president, and Herbert, the perv on Family Guy, and Herbert Anderson, who played Dennis The Menace's father.

But if Ms White wants to call her trust fund the Rainbow Sherbert Foundation, that's just fine with me. I can think of 210 million reasons why she should.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's for you

In my line of work, you get

Oh wait.  I no longer have a line of work. 

But when I did work, I used to love to take my cell phone to meetings etc, hoping it would ring.

I don't like the standard ring tones that come with a cell. And as a pensioner (!) I certainly am not about to pay $2.99 for a short segment of "Set Fire To The Rain" by Adele.  How would one set fire to something already soaking wet...never mind.

So what I do is prowl the internet for free sound effects.  It takes skill and pertinacity to search for them.  You Google "free sound effects" and you are rewarded with an aural panoply, sure to drive people nuts.

Let's say you're meeting with some people who have lived on the wrong side of the law.  What better way to instill respect for our criminal justice system than to make "The Theme from COPS" your ring tone.  Click on the words The Theme from COPS and see what I mean here...

A quick subtle reminder of Law and Order is this famous doink-doink sound...

And sometimes, you just might feel like a spoken word ringtone, from a great American with something important to say about our pet population.

Just find the clips you like online, send them to your email, open the email on your phone and save the attached file as music, go to your music and add the file to your ringtones, and select as need be.

Or, pay money to Flo Rida.  My way is more fun, though. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Arrhythmia Of The Night

The election is over, and I won.

All right; don't panic.  I'm not going to be president or anything.  But the annual Philistine convention, meeting in secret congress, overwhelmingly voted me the least cultured individual on earth.  I narrowly edged out Gary Busey, and observers attribute my victory to my adamant refusal to enjoy "The Phantom of the Opera."

We go back a long time, this musical and I.  In 1988, Peggy dragged accompanied me to New York to see it on Broadway.  I remember walking around the fabled streets of Gotham, having an authentic slice o' pizza and then shuffling into the Majestic Theatre for a matinee. 

And the next thing I knew, some candelabra was plunging toward us all.  Having always associated overly baroque lighting with Liberace, I was stunned at first, so I woke up confused.  The legendary showman had passed away the previous year, and yet here was this shimmering stalactite, swaying six inches from my face.

Down below a pretty woman was wading through what appeared to be a sewer, or the River Styx.  A man with a horrible case of goiter was darting after her.

And there was also a play, right on the stage.  People were singing.  As a matter of fact, playgoers really got a lot for their money, because the lady, the ogre and the guy in a tuxedo were all three singing different songs!  But the crowd really roared with applause when they sang "The Music Of The Night."  And do you know how they sang that show-stopper!


And Gently.

Oh Lord, how slowly.  It seemed to take the rest of the afternoon.

The man in the hat sang

Night time shahpens, heightens each sensation
Dockness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses

And so I abandoned mine. Speaking of abandoned mines, this whole sorry episode blew up in my face again on Sunday evening, when channel surfing led me to Public Television's broadcast of this dreadful event. Here's a little taste of what I saw, in case you missed it.

So all right, I prefer Stripes to A River Runs Through It, and the only Iron Lady I recall seeing was a woman at the State Fair who caught a cannonball in her plush solar plexus.  I can't be the only person who doesn't see the deal with POTO.

Can I?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In the name of the Father

I'm going to open the floor to comments from my Catholic friends on this one.  The story comes from Xfinity, written by Brian Rademaekers:

A lesbian woman and others were in disbelief after a Maryland priest refused to give her Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral service.

The Washington Post reports that The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo denied Barbara Johnson Communion during her mother’s funeral service at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md. The church is a member of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. 

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’” she told the Post

Guarnizo apparently learned about her relationship just before the service, and Johnson attended the Feb. 26 funeral with her partner of 19 years.

The priest also left the altar during Johnson’s eulogy for her mother, and did not attend the burial service afterward. 

Now, Johnson and her family are calling for Guarnizo to be removed from the church and sent a letter to the priest decrying his actions.

Johnson received a letter Feb. 28 from a high-ranking member of the archdiocese apologizing for the incident, which was described as violating policy.
Johnson told the Post she was comforted by the letter, but that she would not be satisfied until Guarnizo was removed.

While the incident has outraged members of the gay community, some Catholic bloggers have defended the move.

Rev. Guarnizo, you do understand, this was the woman's mother's funeral over which you were presiding, am I wrong?

Kindly Rev Guarnizo
Would it have killed you to just let her take communion and dealt with your feelings about what you consider to be her sins a little later on?

I really need to know why a church official - no matter what the religion, how large the faith - would feel it's ok to hurt someone like that in the name of Jesus Christ.

I'll now stand back and have it explained to me.  Who's first?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Angels and Demons

Having only recently joined the ranks of people who get to stay home all day, I have just found out that there are TV shows on the cable all day for people who are home all day.  And these shows teach us many interesting things about our fellow citizens.

This show called "Today" taught me the other day that today, a man named Hooker, 43, a former high school teacher, left his wife and three kids for an 18-year-old that he taught - in the same school that one of his daughters still attends.  She left her home too, and now the two crazy love birds are shackin' up out there in Modesto, California, home of the minor league baseball team the Modesto Nuts.  The young lady's mother is handling this in the perfect 2012 fashion.  She didn't go to the school board, nor did she call the police.  She has opened a Facebook page calling for something to be done.

The guy's daughter is a junior in the high school.  You don't think she's having a very good spring semester, do you? 

And the young lady in question, Jordan Powers, is planning to go to nursing school, which ought to come in handy in future years.

And then, watching a show called Good Morning, America, I learned that in Dunwoody, GA, a man, name of Hemy Neuman, killed a guy named Rusty Sneiderman.  Sneiderman, up until his death by shooting in the parking lot of a preschool, was married to Andrea Sneiderman. Neuman was really into old Andrea.  They flirted via email, hugged and spooned on business trips, but Andrea did not do the one thing that would have made her available for Neuman: she did not leave Rusty. So Neuman gunned Rusty down. Hello, Neuman!

Typical story, heard dozens of times, right? Well. no, because the difference here is that, according to defense attorney Doug Peters, Neuman believed he had been visited by an angel and demon in the forms of Olivia Newton-John and Barry White, respectively, who told him that Sneiderman's children were his and that he needed to protect them by killing her husband.

Olivia Newton John appeared to him, as if in a vision, and told him to off this other dude.  A demonic Barry White concurred.

What I have learned so far by staying home is that staying home is the only safe way to stay safe.  That's the first thing I learned, and the last. And everything.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Heart of Glass

To the thief who broke into my car the other day while I was at work, two days away from retirement: I want you to know that all you did was break the window out and steal my hangtag.  That's all.  You shattered the glass, but not my faith in the goodness and decency of most of mankind.

You know how you go through the dozen eggs in a carton at the Shop A Lot to make sure they're all omelet-worthy (not cracked)?  Well, culling through humanity is a lot like that process.  Among every few dozen good eggs, there is a bad egg here and there. 

I called the guy who sold me the car.  He put me right in touch with a service advisor, who got me all set up.  And because our dealer -  the magnificent Jones Toyota of Bel Air MD - provides free loaner service for its customers, I was given the use of a BA Dodge SUV  - and that car has Sirius radio, so I got to listen to Howard Stern in the morning.  

So, Mr Thief (I guess you are a male), all you stole was property and all you broke was glass.  You can't steal my happiness and you can't break my spirit. 

But you should read what they say about Karma!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why should I have to prove I'm not a robot?

You go to comment on someone's blog, and you have to fill out a little quiz...
So you have to type the two words that aren't really words so that the computer knows you are human.  I can't for the life of me believe that the computer world needs to monitor comments being made to a site that shares recipes for lasagna made in cupcake tins, but whatever.

I think, and this is just I saying this, but I firmly believe that there are people behind this...somewhere they sit and come up with words for us to type, and change our passwords while we sleep.  And then when we write back and say we forgot our password, they come up with our new password:


and send that to us, inviting us to change it to something else...if we dare.

I see a world in which we all have one password, good for all our sites.  And then, one grocery store card, good at all grocery stores.  I almost need a new pocket down at the knees to carry all of them around.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Jackie Oh!

I know a Jacquie, a Jaci, a Jacki, and many Jackies of both genders, and I am writing today to say that I never met a (person whose name is one of those, however the spelling) that I didn't like a whole big lot!

One of my cousins married a really cool girl named Jackie, and what I liked about her was that, as a young married woman, she was still nice to a goofy kid of 13 or whatever I was.  No one likes a 13-year old boy, least of all a 13-year-old girl, but thanks, Jackie, for talking to me like I mattered.

My sister's longtime friend Jaci has been a friend of mine since forever, and she has cool kids and cool grandkids now, none of them named after her, but there's still time.  Jaci has been putting up with my bad jokes even longer than
Jacquie has.  Jacquie was in my class in high school, by which I mean she was there at the same time.  I'm sure she spent more time in the classrooms than I did, I who put the "true" in "truancy."  (And the "sent" in "absent," because a certain vice principal who shall remain nameless often sent me to the Thomas and Thompson Pharmacy with a dollar and his standard order:"Get me a pack of Kents and large coke, and get yourself something...")  Jacquie was one of those cool and pretty girls who nonetheless always had a kind word for goofs such as I. Jacki is a police dispatcher with whom I worked, a very nice person and a real professional. Jackie did the news while I was a DJ back in my radio days, and we're still in touch on Facebook.  She has moved 3,000 miles away and now lives in The Land That Time Forgot, because she has not aged a minute since we worked together, and that was when Disco was big, if you want to know the truth.

Famous Jackies? I got a million of 'em.  Jackie Robinson, the bravest man on a ball field.  Jackie Gleason, dubbed by Orson Welles "The Great One" and he never ever argued that point.  Jackie Chan from the movies, Jackie Earle Haley who played "Guerrero" on Human Target and Kelly Leak in The Bad News Bears, Jackie Coogan, who was Uncle Fester, and two more: Jackie Wilson, singer of "Reet Petite" and Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling, the man who fed Howard Stern gags for years and years, one of which became the last joke I ever told my father.

I'll have to tell you that joke someday. I think I've told all the Jackies.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taylor-Made Joy

I'm telling you right here and now, Taylor Swift turns out to be everything she seemed - and more.  I am fascinated with her and the way the younger people with vulnerable hearts are so touched by her music, and the way she genuinely cares for her fans and the world at large.  If she were faking it, she would have slipped up somehow by now, and there would have been tabloid coverage of her wild bacchanalian nights with noted Hollywood swingers like David Duchovny or something. 

But old Taylor has been in the public eye for, what, four years now, and never is there anything about her that doesn't seem pure and good and wholesome.  And her songs!  Who hasn't been ranked out by someone being "Mean," and who hasn't cried out in anguish, "You Belong With Me" to that elusive inamorata?  She speaks for a generation, and that generation spans a lot of ages.

Not that I pretend to be objective anyway about anything,  but I frankly adore Taylor Swift for her goodness and her songs and the way she lives.  And never more so than last weekend, when she replied to a young man with leukemia who had asked her via Facebook to be his prom date.  No, sorry, she was busy on prom night, she answered...but would he like to be her date for the Academy of Country Music Awards in April?

Say what you will about Taylor.  You might not like her kind of music, but the world needs more people with her kind of heart.