Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, August 31, 2013

 Well now...let's see...I love to see gorillas doing whatever, I love saxophone music, I enjoy balloons and I love parties.  I'm all in for this one, but I can't call the number so finely painted on this abandoned door (see: hinges) because they did not put the area code on there, for the love of Pete!
 Not far from us there is one of those karate schools.  They advertise that they will pick up the kids from school, take them to the karate school and let them burn off all the pent-up energy that reading The Brothers Karamazov stores within them, and then take them home. The kids, not the Karamazov brothers.  They can find their own way home.  Well, one day, I was on my way home, not from a karate class, but I counted myself among the fortunate when that van, full of kids, passed me on the right, zoomed along the shoulder of the road, and rocked back into traffic going only slighter more slowly than a NASCAR hotshot.  You might want to check into these things before sending your kids to such a place.  And yes, I did call the school and let them know.  I figured I owed the children and their parents that much.
 Someone at Hoover High school should be held responsible for this giant banner through which the varsity will be crashing.
Tonight, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide kicks off the college football season, taking on Virginia Tech on ESPN (5:30 EDT).  By the way, in case you were planning on betting against the Tide this year, the Vegas oddsmakers have made them the favorite to win every game they play this year. Roll Tide!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Priorities askew?

These last few days, I've been worrying that someone was fixing up a cauldron of tar and plucking the last Rhode Island Red, so as to tar and feather Ms Miley Cyrus, from Los Angeles, CA.

Over in Syria, the government is using chemical warfare on its own people, but more Americans are worried about what Hannah Montana is up to, or down to.  So the other night on the always-classy MTV awards she stripped down to something twice the size of what you can see on any beach in the country, besides Adam Beach.

And then she did something called "twerking," which is, from what I can glean, a suggestive dance step that uses one's derriere to keep the rhythm going.  Ms Cyrus did this unwholesome forbidden dance of love in front of Alan Thicke's son, who came to an awards show dressed as a convict from an old Alcatraz movie.

Meanwhile, across an ocean of some size, Syria is involved in a civil war which might lead to more of a mess.  Here at home, hurricane season looms.  People went to Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's dream, only to be told by FOX News that the dream ended because Jay Z curses a lot.  Some crackpot judge in Montana let a male teacher who raped a child - who later killed herself - off with a monthlong slapped wrist. 82% of Americans accept interracial marriage, up from 4% in 1958, but the flip side of that coin is that 18% of Americans look down on love if the skin colors of the people in love don't line up just so.  The people who dish up McMuffins and Triple Whoppers are about to go on strike, seeking enough pay to feed themselves and their families decent food.  Some madman who somehow became police chief in a tiny town in PA decided that he was Ted Nugent without a guitar and went crazy with videos threatening the entire universe.  Suspended from his job, he launched a website asking for money to feed his family.

My humble suggestion - stop worrying about Miley Cyrus. She is in the show business, and she knows that half the job there is to get her name in the papers, on TV, and around the office watercooler. Plus, she has already, at 21, earned enough to live quite a nice life and feed herself caviar and filet mignon three times a day for the rest of her life if she so chooses. I'd say, worry more about a country where people worry more about Hannah Montana than about a judge in Montana.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

LODD

There are acronyms that suggest laughter or amusement - TMI!  LOL!  OMG!  ROFLMAO!

There are acronyms used for measurement (MPH), for airports (BWI), for time zones (EST), for cable channels (MSNBC), and for brevity when ending messages (TTFN).

But the one you never want to see is the one above, LODD, the one that stands for Line Of Duty Death.

Baltimore County lost a police officer on Wednesday morning.  Officer Jason Schneider of the Tactical Unit was involved in serving a warrant for a man wanted for shootings in the Catonsville area, and after he entered the dwelling, was shot by a man.  Officer Schneider returned fire and the shooter
is now dead himself.

The Chief of Police and the County Executive spoke outside the Shock Trauma center downtown, the site of so many briefings of this sort over the years.  "During a well-prepared police event, Officer Schneider was killed in the line of duty and we deeply mourn his loss," the County Executive, Kevin Kamenetz, said. "I can only tell you that we don't always appreciate what our police do for us every day but it's times like this when we know how grateful we are for their bravery and their sacrifice."

Chief James W. Johnson said that Schneider was "a leader within that unit," and that "This is a terrible loss for Baltimore County."

Officer Schneider's police friends and family were quick to light up Facebook with memorial messages.  The word spread and the use of "LODD" was all over the pages.

It doesn't make any sense that a man who was not even the one being sought on a warrant was willing to take a life and lose his own in the process, taking away a public servant, a Marine veteran, a husband, father of two, brother, son, friend of many.  

They say it's not useful to try to figure these things out, that life goes on in its own pattern, and that we are better off to strap on our safety belts and hang on for the ride.  I guess that's right; I've spent years trying to figure out how and why some people can take a life or lives, and how the fates seem to conspire against a good man or woman, and how to answer the question "Why?"

I guess we need to add another acronym to the list.  SADS:   Such A Damned Shame.

Rest in peace, Officer Schneider, and may Heaven send comfort to your family.






Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It was inpleed a deasure to meet this man

Peggy and I went to the great Maryland State Fair at Timonium the other night and had a great time.  All the things we love about the fair were there...the farm animals with the proud farm kids who raised 'em and displayed 'em...the home arts, the produce, the pies, the homemade honey...the rides, the food on the midway...the people on the midway...it's all good there at the fair.

And we are grateful that our feet were not injured.  Not from walking, but from this guy we ran into...

Channel 13 had their snazzy new Mobile Weather Van out there with a giant monitor to display all the current conditions - temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, dew point, barometric pressure.

And they had their nice new addition to their weather team, a meteorologist named Chelsea Ingram.  Between live shots back to the studio during the news, she was chatting with passersby, saying that she came here from a job in Vermont but was born and raised in North Carolina, so I was able to tell her that New England weather appeals greatly to me, as a devotee of cold weather and snow. She was as gracious as could be, showing not a trace of ego or vanity, and we enjoyed meeting her and saying 'hey'.

I say 'hey' all the time.

But then along came this guy. A meaty, beefy sort of guy knifed his way through the crowd and butted right into the conversation, saying things such as:

"My name is..." (He said his name, and waited ten seconds for a glimmer of an iota of a scintilla of recognition for his moniker. Sensing none, he plowed on...)

"You don't know me yet, but (a man who also does weather for that station) is a personal friend of mine for 30 years..."

(Notice the "yet", which implies that she is GOING to know him.)

"Where do you live?" (For real, this man just asked the lady where she lives.  Taken aback at his effrontery, she said..."Uh...in the city.." but that was not enough information to satisfy him, so he countered with...

"Where in the city?" ( and she reluctantly named a neighborhood)

"Are you leasing (a female reporter)'s condo down there?"

Then he explained himself, as we watched and listened...

"I'm in commercial real estate, myself, or at least I was until a week ago.  I went to prep school in New England, you see. (At this point, he demanded to know exactly where she lived when she worked in Vermont so he could name ten Vermonters and grill her to see if she knew them as well as he did).  And I went to prep school with (name of a theatrical agent I never heard of) who is a great friend of (male reporter who used to work at Channel 13)."

On and on he droned, and that's why I was worried about Peggy's feet and my feet.  The way he was dropping names like anvils, I was afraid that one or two of them would land on our dogs, causing significant injury.

Fortunately for the meteorologist, it was time for her to go on the air, so she graciously excused herself and took her place on camera.  She could not have been more lovely in any sense of that word.

I felt sorry for her; this sort of thing must happen every day in the life of a local celebrity, having to deal with the swollen egos of people desperate for recognition by sneaking into the party under the cloaks of other people.

I almost felt sorry for him.  I guess he just lost his job and is having a bit of a pride problem, but the solution to that is not to appear in a public place and mention how many famous people you claim to number among your friends.

We saw him leave.  He went into the Cow Palace, with the rest of the bull.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Looking forward to snow

Well, with back-to-school out of the way, and the first of September looming large, we now turn our attention to the two things that people in Baltimore love to do as fall approaches. One of them, of course, is wondering if Joe Flacco is really good enough to continue in his job as quarterback of the Ravens, since all he's done in 5 seasons here is to win at least one playoff game each year, start all 80 games played since he got here, and win the Superbowl last year.

And the other is fretting about the impending winter weather. Sure, it's still in the upper 80s, but we know that any day now, the "mercury will plummet," as headline writers like to say, and we will be "blanketed" with "the white stuff."  For those of you reading this in Arizona, that means it's gonna get cold and we will have snow.

Except that I bought that Rav4 over two years ago, and it is supposed to go into 4-wheel drive when driving on snowy or icy roads, and we haven't had a decent snowfall here since Hector was a pup.  For all I know, the 4-wheel drive on the car is purely mythical,  spoken of but never seen,  like an intelligent, objective report on FOX News.

This does not deter us from worrying about the snow. Here's the latest "prediction" from the Farmer's Almanac, which places Maryland right in the middle of the "Cold, wet and white" zone.

This always reminds me of that scene in "Doc Hollywood" in which Michael J. Fox plays a physician who has been to medical school in the last 50 years and tells an old country doctor that, "you can't treat that with Coca-Cola or Bisquick.We're gonna have to use real medicine this time." These almanacs were written in April, printed in July, probably, and how they foresee the weather for this still-unseen winter is just a matter of guessing.  Meanwhile, professional meteorologists learn the science of their field and still warn that they can't be certain of any prediction more than a day or so in advance.

In other words, if I say that next January 13 will be snowy, I might be right.  Or not.  But if I'm publishing almanacs, and you spent you're money on mine, it really doesn't matter, does it?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Here and There

Art culture icon Andy Warhol had this to say, in his 1975 book "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol":

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

It was not that way in The Old Country, where nobility reigned and the humble served them the finest of food and drink before wearily going home to their meager huts to a meal of gruel and overly boiled coffee.

I haven't had a soda myself for a long time; I gave them up after I realized I no longer liked drinking them, and water or iced tea is so much tastier (and cheaper!) But it is comforting to know that I could ankle into the SavNoMor and pick up a handy 18-pack of Coke that would taste the same as it would had it been purchased in Keokuk.

Part of the global vision of the McDonald's empire is that the 1/4 pounder that you bought yesterday on your trip to New York City would be identical to the one you'll purchase tomorrow, back home in Biscuitville.  No local flavor, if you will.

And if you go to a distant city, chances are that the vista of hardware stores, discount electronic merchants and taco carryouts will closely resemble your hometown view, except that the people talk funny.  Really.  Instead of your local stores like Hard Harry's Hardware, O'Hoolahan's TV Land and Mexican Joe's Tacoria, you can wake up in any American town and spot a Home Depot, Best Buy or Taco Bell.

Even those regional accents are fading; people don't always talk all that differently from one corner of the nation to another.  This is due to everyone watching cable TV and attempting to sound like Andie MacDowell.

But, I like to listen to online radio from across the nation.  It's simple...just Google the name of a city or town and add "radio" to the search.  Then click on one of the radio stations listed and see if there is a link to listen online, and there you go.

As I write this. I'm enjoying a talk with the town manager of Oshkosh, WI, over WNAM in Neenah-Manasha.  He is discussing the problems of Oshkosh, such as complaints from residents near the railroad tracks about noisy overnight activity down there.  (Residents of Baltimore would not be bothered by noise from the railyards, as it would not be audible above the police, fire and EMS sirens.)

The city manager said that something was "kitty-corner" from another location, and also that something about the city's trash collection system seemed to be "kittywampus."  These are not expressions within the lexicon of Baltimore and it's interesting to open another tab in Google Chrome and look them up.

Here, we say "cater-corner" for diagonally opposed, and "totally screwed up" instead of "kittywampus."

And out there in Wisconsin, they don't have a term for "mass shooting" or "crooked public official taking bagsful of payoffs from paving contractors."

Language adapts to fill our needs.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Rerun: I Married a Teenager

A couple of Saturday nights ago, we were at a steak house with a friend, and I, for whatever dumb reason, ordered something I had never had before, and I don't think anyone else has either...or should.  The taste of the turkeyburger was quite like how I perceive tree bark, or soggy ceiling tiles, to taste.

I didn't know what to do.  I hate to cause a scene, and I've heard enough urban myths about how food sent back to a restaurant kitchen returns to the table covered with "special sauce" and "secret spices."  But it was OK, because Peggy knew what to do.  "Just let the waitress know you don't like it, and she'll get you something else," counseled my wonderful wife.  And it all worked out fine, as always.

Today is the 37th anniversary of the sweet December day when I, lean, lanky and longhaired, donned a rented tuxedo and took as my wife the lovely 19-year-old Peggy.  You know how on TV shows and in cartoons, they always call the wife "The Better Half"?  Well, it couldn't be more true in this case. I always figured that God in heaven looked down and saw a life of confusion and perplexed wanderlust ahead for me, and sent down an angel to guide me.

Peggy's the one who keeps the family finances, and the checkbook, and knows enough not to send me to the Credit Union without a sticky note for the teller, telling her what bills to pay, checks to cash, savings to add.

Peggy's the one who deals with my mother's finances, groceries, and in tandem with my sister, her medications and day-to-day needs.  And if you think that's not a handful, well.....think twice.

Peggy's the one around here to listen to me, support me, prop up my tender feelings when someone sticks out their figurative tongue at me, and encourage me when I need it.

When I need a peanut-butter-and-jelly sammy, there's no one who can fix one for me better than Peggy.  When something breaks around here and I need someone to steady the step ladder while I teeter in midair, there's no one I count on like Peggy. Decorating the house with Christmas joy or decorating my heart with love, it's Peggy every time.



Of course, I'm a little biased here, but it would be hard to think of how anyone wouldn't love Peggy as soon as they met.  She is unfailingly kind to others, always looks for the best in everything and everyone, and people tend to confide in her, always a sign of affectionate trust.  She's been a trusted and dependable employee of the same firm for more than 38 years, and she is without doubt the best person in the whole wide world.

Which leaves only one question, namely, why would she put up with me for 37 years?   But did I mention already that she's an angel?

Thanks, Peggy.  I love you forever and always. Thanks for always knowing what to do!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, August 24, 2013

This is one of my favorite writers, the great Joseph Mitchell.  He's the man who suffered an epic case of writer's block and still came to work every day at The New Yorker from 1964 until his death in 1996, and wrote not one word for publication in all that time.  In earlier days, he covered the waterfront and everything else in New York, and had a particular fondness for the diners and restaurants where the commercial fishermen ate.  How about lunch at Sloppy Louie's?
This is from back in the day before people were dumb enough to write and read texts as they drove.  It is really swell when people don't have traffic boners. 

Breakfast fit for a King.
No words of mine can add to the words of the great Dorothy Parker, who joins me in looking forward to a mighty fine Fall!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lighten up, McGraw

If a person seeks counseling from a mental health professional, it's usually best that they find one who talks to them in a kind, appropriate, yet non-harmful way.

Imagine, if you will, that you seek advice from someone who calls himself a "Dr" and then calls you out on national TV, spouting cornball slogans such as "What part of 'wrong' do you not understand?" and claiming to be able to resolve complex issues in one hour (minus time for irregularity-aid commercials)

We're talking about everyone's favorite phony pop psychologist who is not a psychologist - he surrendered his license in 2006 - the inestimable Dr Phil McGraw.  We could talk about all the dumb things he has done over the years, such as repeatedly embarrassing people, hawking weight-loss products (a practice that cost him $10.5 million in settlements with irate purchasers) and charges of practicing his hokey psychology without a license.

Or we could talk about the way he sweeps off the stage at the end of every show and escorts his wife, Robin, off the set so that she can get busy selling nail polish infused with diamond dust to people who regard nail polish infused with diamond dust to be an elegant touch.

No, we're here today to talk about old Phil and his latest boo-boo.  On Tuesday, apparently lacking adult supervision, he took to Twitter to tweet this question:

 “if a girl is drunk, is it okay to have sex with her? Reply yes or no.”

Well now, his people, days later, finally got around to clearing things up...it seems that this was not just some game of mental Jotto for old Phil.  He says he wanted input because he's fixin' to do a show about having sex with drunk girls.

Another important topic, one that bears discussion at the highest levels of our society.  Don't you dare conclude that old McGraw is looking to titillate the prurient interests of people at 3 o'clock in the afternoon.   Not at all.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Secret Shame

I've lived with this long enough, and now it's time to bring it into the open.

No, I'm not talking about my unwavering devotion to the music and persona of Britney Spears.  This is something even more inexplicable.

To say that I try to live by standards is no exaggeration.  In 1970, the operator of a gas station down the road apiece refused to honor the tax-exempt status of the volunteer fire company, and he cursed at me when I tried to explain how it worked.  I told him then and there that I would never spend another nickel in his establishment for the rest of my life, and 43 years later, I have not patronized that Citgo station.

I have never ever voted for a member of a certain political party.

And I would consign myself to fiery perdition before I would cheer for any accomplishment of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees or the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But...

Peggy and I stumbled upon an Italian-cuisine restaurant in a resort town near where we go for vacation some years ago. Why we keep going back there every single year is what I am sore about.

The restaurant lacks atmosphere, their idea of decor being giant posters of uncooked noodles or an Al Hirschfeld caricature of Luciano Pavarotti.  The walls were freshly done in Kem-Tone Industrial Beige #5 in about 1975.

The background music is screamin' opera at max volume.

The staff, male and female, generally look like they just spent the weekend at the beach and it's Monday morning and time to go to work, never mind that there are two-day-old sauce stains on your apron and your tattered black pants cuffs are dragging around your filthy Nikes.

The owner and his wife stand by the cash register with unfriendly scowls.  Every so often, the phone will ring, and one or the other will answer with the name of the establishment and then, milliseconds later, he or she will growl, "We don't take reservations." And they hang up. I used to try to tell them how much we enjoyed the food as we left.  The husband would look at me in much the same way as the archbishop would look at a choirboy who just spilled wine all over the altar, so I gave up on that.

This did NOT happen there.  But the atmosphere is identical. I always check behind the toilet for a revolver.
And I just gave it away.  Q). Why do we go there, to this dank, unwelcoming restaurant that might just as appropriately be called "Boehner's Dungeon" ?

A).  Because the food is so good.  The pasta, the veal (I mean it!  try the veal!), the Caesar salad, the meatballs, the ravioli...to dine there is to sup with the gods.  The sauce - and they dole it out as generously as they spooned out the porridge where Oliver Twist grew up - is a tomato-based nectar that has as much to do with Ragu as Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" has to do with "Turkey In The Straw."  You get just enough sauce to make you want to come back next year.

And we will.  Consarn it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A tinker's damn

The phrase "a tinker's damn" is usually seen in the sentence, "It's not worth a tinker's damn," referring to something that is insignificant or worthless.

No one does this sort of work anymore, but there used to be men working as "tinkers," whose job it was to go from house to house fixing things.  Every so often in the old days, the tinker would come down the lane, and he would come in and repair pots and pans, sharpen the knives, tighten the loose hinge on the shutter, and batten down the hatches (for those living on houseboats.)

These men, talented as they were, were not known for gentlemanly behavior.  This was a rough life they led, going door to door in a horse and wagon, bunking in second-rate taverns, swilling warm beer and eating venison stew, or worse.
So, they cursed.  A lot.

Now, if you know someone who is especially upstanding and pious, it's notable to be around them when they are trying to change a tire one rainy cold night alongside a dark road when the tire iron slips and they can't budge that last lug nut (but they do bust one of their own.)  This is a time when a man who never utters a dark oath will

give out with a "Damn!"

A tinker at work.  He said he'll have this
done next Tuesday.
On the other hand, these tinker guys, less staunch in their religion, would pepper their salty language with as many "damns" as there are dried-up artificially-colored pieces of marshmallow in a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Hence, a "tinker's damn" did not mean much, since he damned everything in sight every day.

What's interesting is that, in the late 19th Century, America went through an insane phase of prudish behavior, apparently inspired by Victorian England.  I mean, it was this bad:  the legs on a piano had to be covered by some sort of veil, lest a man see them and think of a woman's legs.

And a woman's legs were not to be seen or even spoken of in those days, which would have severely limited job opportunities for the Stacy Keibler of 1877.

Baltimore's own,
Stacy Keibler
So, in order to keep using the phrase, people invented the expression "a tinker's dam," which was supposed to be the little pan where the tinker melted solder when fixing something metallic.

The only problem was, that little "dam" was a real thing.

They could have said "a tinker's curse," and that would have been all right, except that I would have had to think of something else to write about today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

About a trucker's tan

Last week up at the beach, Peggy and I spent the better part of a day sitting on the balcony outside our room, reading, watching the surf, enjoying the sounds, and gull-watching.

It's been an odd summer in that we have had plenty of rain, thus sparing us news stories showing farmers walking disconsolately through arid, dessicated fields where corn didn't grow.  In fact, some say we had too much rain, thus demonstrating that in an area where agricultural and other interests intersect, no one can ever agree on how much rain we need.  I like corn and farmers, so I say let it rain.

And it was cool at the ocean...so sitting on the balcony, reading out of town newspapers, was a perfect way to spend the day.  As the sun rose high in the sky, we got a little sun on us, and later that night, due to our respective seating positions, Peggy had a little sunburn on her left arm, and I had a red right arm.

They used to call it a trucker's tan.  I had one back in the day before I had an air-conditioned car.  The left arm would hang out of the open window.  I had a long ride to work in those days, and so by August I had a very tan left arm and a pale right soupbone.  I imagine that British truckers had the same as I did last week, with their right arms all tanned up from hanging out of their lorries.  Ditto for American letter carriers, whose right arms reach out to slide the latest Oprah magazine, electric bills and free return address labels from Father Flanagan's Boys Town® into mailboxes all across the land.

Tomorrow, let's talk about a tinker's damn!














Monday, August 19, 2013

Arthur Teacher

They say that every now and then, a drunk squirrel finds an acorn, and a bad-winged bird flies high, and even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Except for a stopped digital clock, but you get the point.

Similarly, I was not very impressed with the presidency of George H.W. Bush, although I recognize his steadfast service as a bomber pilot in World War II.

But - there was one thing he did I really liked and have tried to emulate any time I could.  Ol' Bush "Sr" carried in his coat pocket a packet of note cards, and every time he came across someone who was doing their job really well, or provided excellent service, or went out of their way to do something nice - all that sort of thing - he would jot down a thank-you note, a little epistle to that person, maybe just a line of two, but you have to figure it was very much appreciated by the recipient.  It's a good thing to do.

I think of this every time I see "Arthur" (the original movie, with Dudley Moore) because Liza Minnelli was so great in her role as Linda Marolla.  Liza's appeal has been lost on me over the years.  There is always of lot of that "let me belt out a song and remind you of my mother" hokum, there's her history of substance abuses, her parade of epicene consorts and husbands (none of my business, those last two) and so forth.  She's just not been my cup of tea as an entertainer.

Liza as Linda
But, in the movie, she is tremendous.  Linda is a waitress, an aspiring actress like every other server in New York, and she meets Arthur Bach, the dissolute playboy who comes close to literally drowning his sorrows in an ocean of booze before realizing that real love doesn't need real big money behind it. Linda is no angel (she rips off a necktie for a birthday gift for her father) but she and Arthur fall in love and her strengths make up for his weaknesses, and vice versa.

Trivia note:  in the scene toward the end where Arthur shows up at the diner where Linda works, a male customer is grumpily asking for his roll. That man is Lawrence Tierney, who later played Elaine's father in Seinfeld in the great episode where Jerry gets stuck wearing his new suede coat in a snowstorm.

If I were George Herbert Walker Bush, I would send a nice note to Liza Minnelli for her acting in that picture.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday rerun: The Ins and Outs of Colonoscopies

With a family history of colon cancer, I have been obliged to get a colonoscopy every five years since the age of 50.  Today's the day. Hooray!

What it looks like
As anyone who has done this can tell you, yesterday was the day that really bit the big one.  A liquid diet just does not agree with me, but they want the highway to be wide open when the camera goes a-lookin' for traffic problems, as it were, so my normal breakfast bagel is tossed aside in favor of low-sodium chicken broth, beef bouillon steps in as pinch-hitter for lunch, and dinner is a veritable feast of more broth, some lemon jello and maybe a lemon ice.  I had black tea and lots of juices.

And don't you know, as I sat and watched TV in the afternoon, I found out there are over 27 shows on cable dedicated to the art of cake creation and dedication! What Hath Duff Goldman wrought, I hollered!  Flip away from that, and it's a Popeye's commercial - then a spot for Checkers - and then another cooking show.

What you THINK it looks like
Not complaining.  This is a vital part of my health. I can't help it if eating solid food is also a vital part of my plan.  Today, we will go to the hospital and I will have the "procedure" done, after which there will be a short period of discomfort.  Not for me! For Peggy, who will be in the waiting room as I come back to consciousness from the stupor of the anesthesia.  The uneasiness comes because I am liable to say most anything in this state.  And just like the guy with the fire ax who is stationed to run in and save Penn (from Penn and Teller) in that bit where he is chained upside down in a huge vat of water, Peggy sits on the edge of her seat, ready to spring into action if I begin telling a nurse the one about the nervous young lady on her first visit to a gynecologist. Then Peggy will drive me home by way of the diner.


And in 2016, we'll do it all over again!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, August 17, 2013

 Yesterday was the 36th anniversary of the day the King passed away.  He would be 78 now.  He came here to bring us music, and to his last days, he did just that.
 This colorized photo from Shorpy (a really cool site for old pictures) shows a tough kinda kid from Baltimore in 1938.  Even though his jeans were crudely patched and the house where he lived was far from a mansion, there is a certain look in his eyes that invited one and all not to mess with him.  I think he looks like Martin Milner from Adam-12.
 This photobombing craze is really getting out of hand.  The young man on the right was cheesin' for a picture when the hambone actor (left) came Cruisin' in.  Some people cannot get enough attention.
Marigold fields in Mexico, 1967.  OR a bar graph showing Mexican marigold production in 1967.

Friday, August 16, 2013

An annual tribute, written by John Updike, 1999

Jesus and Elvis

Twenty years after the death, St. Paul
was sending the first of his epistles,
and bits of myth or faithful memory–
multitudes fed on scraps, the dead small girl
told "Talitha, cumi"–were self-assembling
as proto-Gospels. Twenty years since pills
and chiliburgers did another in,
they gather at Graceland, the simple believers,

the turnpike pilgrims from the sere Midwest,
mother and daughter bleached to look alike,
Marys and Lazaruses, you and me,
brains riddled with song, with hand-tinted visions
of a lovely young man, reckless and cool
as a lily. He lives. We live. He lives.

                                 John Updike in The New Yorker 12/6/99

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Talk it over

Friends of mine have a son, middle school age.  With back-to-school looming heavily in the immediate future, he got himself ready by assembling a desk from a kit (might have been IKEA) and they showed a picture of the desk on that Facebook thing.

He set the desk up very well, had his trash can all ready to go, and a copy of a book on prominent display.  The book is called "How To Talk To Girls."

I would now like to offer all that I know on that topic, for the benefit of young men everywhere.

As I remember from the days when I was in junior high school, we were reeling from the budget cuts made by President Fillmore, so a lot of our extra-curricular activities were eliminated or made smaller.  I was a founding member of the Detention Club, though, and that's where I met a lot of girls. Good girls, bad girls, ok girls, tall girls, short girls, blondes, brunettes, redheads, smart girls, not-so-smart girls...I was turned down by every type of girl you could name.  But persistence was my ally, so I would just keep talking until they said, "IF I agree to go out with you, will you just shut up?  And also never tell anyone about it?"

And then, I felt the true majesty of young love sweeping over me.  I shivered, and they shuddered.

Listen, guys, these books will tell you to be sure of yourself, to come on a little strong but not like Justin Bieber, to compliment the girl but do so sincerely, to ask gentle questions, to get her to laugh, and above all, to get her to talk about herself.  Warning: this may result in her saying that what she likes about herself the most are those moments when you are nowhere in sight. Use caution.

Right
Also, "they" (and trust me, this book was not written by George Clooney or any member of One Direction) offer the advice to let the girl know you hope you'll be able to talk to her again.  This often results in the girl going to the school office and getting a new locker assigned.

Wrong
I was not one of the smooth guys with a great way with women, but feel better about this: I wound up with the best woman on earth.

And before that, well, there were a lot of women asking me if I would like to be married!

They included my mother, my grandmother, my sister and my aunt.  But still.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The book about this will be published by Pocket Books

Continuing our tour of new stories from around the world, here's one from Australia.

First of all, it took me until I was well into my twenties to figure out what time it was in the Pacific zone when it's 9 PM here.  And then, I had already started turning a little platinum around the temples by the time I got it through my noggin that when it's summer here, it's winter in Australia.

What helped me was the Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Australia" (Feb 19, '95), in which Bart called a kid in Australia to verify that water circling a drain down under went counterclockwise, as opposed to how it drains here.  As many of us are.  Many of the long-confusing tenets of Australian-American relations were cleared up that night.

So if you click on the story above, you will read how Simon Kruger (wasn't he the star of those Nightmare on Elm Street movies?), 7 years of age (guess not), wandered off from a family picnic and was picking flowers for his mom.  He got lost, and a kangaroo came along.  The kangaroo ate the flowers right out of the boy's hand, and then the boy and the kangaroo curled up and spent the night sleeping, with the boy kept warm by the kangaroo.

Simon's dad, Etienne Kruger, said that "God sent a kangaroo" for the boy, and that Simon would have the greatest story for show-and-tell back in school.   I like that story and the dad's words.   He said Simon was found the next morning, hauled up to safety, and came home for a shower, none the worse for his night in the woods.

Except that when he comes down to breakfast these days, he hops all the way.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Hannah" is a palindrome, as is "Kayak"

I don't get too deep in theological matters here, as I have this belief that everyone is entitled to believe as they do.  But I would like to share this aspect of my belief in God.

I think He has the greatest sense of humor in the world, since He invented humor.  This is why he gives us eczema in places just beyond where we can reach to scratch.

I think He loves sports and happily watches men and women on His earth who can run and throw and catch and do things the average person can only dream of doing.  I do not believe that he takes such an avid interest in the outcome of a game between two last-place teams in mid-August that he adversely affects the outcome of that game, so please, losing pitchers, spare us the "It was God's will that I give up a three-run homer in the ninth inning" piety.  By August, He is already focusing on college football, anyway.

And I don't think He ever told anyone to be stupid.  Which leads us to the story of the Gastonguay family,  a sun-baked group from Arizona.  Sean Gastonguay,30, and his wife Hannah, 26, just couldn't stay here in America any longer, what with all the horrible things that go on.  Abortion, taxes, homosexuality, and what they call the "state-controlled church" (?) pushed them over the line and onto a barely-seaworthy sailboat.  They took Sean's father and their two daughters, one three, one but an infant.

Hannah told the AP that they decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led them.  Experienced sailors will tell you, the first thing NOT to do when boarding a sailboat is to take a leap of faith onto it, especially if your destination is the archipelago nation of Kiribati, best known until now for their basketball team's stunning upset of Belize in the 2008 Olympic basketball semifinals.

They spent 91 days at sea, 90 of them harrowing.  They encountered rough seas, which you have to count on, if you're leaving Arizona by sailboat.  The Gastonguays were down to just a little bit of honey and water, and were eating whatever fish they could find in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (which is where vast schools of breaded stickfish, all headless, measuring one inch by five, swim past the Gorton and Van de Kamp Islands, easy prey for the hungry).   There's an app for that sort of angling!  Fish.net!

Destination: Kiribati
Arrival: Chile
Missed it by: That much
The mariners were eventually picked up by a Japanese cargo ship and dropped off in Chile, where a police official said, "They were looking for a kind of adventure; they wanted to live on a Polynesian island but they didn't have sufficient expertise to navigate adequately."

I don't presume to tell God what to do (who am I? A televangelist with bad hair or something?) but my hunch is, the next time He tells the Gastonguays to do something, he will add a little lecture about not being so dumb.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting my goat

If you have an overgrown yard or lawn, you have a choice.  You can get out there with your lawn mower and your hoe and your scythe and your pick and your shovel and your rake and your sieve and spend days and weeks cleaning out the unwanted greenery.

Or, you can get a goat or two.  Or a whole lot of them; that's what I herd.

I am relentless with the bad jokes.

Baaaaad news for those who love to do the diggin' themselves.  Here's an article from CNN about the Historic Congressional Cemetery over in Washington, which is where many great people from the 1800s are enjoying their final rest.  The guy who cuts the grass there has a very important job: he has several hundred people under him.  There are military nabobs, judges, congressmen, two vice presidents and a Supreme Court justice in that hallowed ground.

And on that hallowed ground was many a weed and unwanted piece of shrubbery.  And poison ivy, the wolfsbane of many a person who goes out among the green stuff.

I was not surprised when I saw that the cure they found in DC was purely organic.  They brought in a few dozen goats, and they went to town, so to speak, gobblin' the weeds like Steven Seagal at a Golden Corral.  Goats will eat anything green,  and poison oak, ivy, sumac, whatever you're growing, does not bother them.

When I was a kid back in the distant past, my Opie-esque childhood kicked into high gear when our family moved to a Providence, MD.  The yard around the old homestead had been allowed to run to ruin for years.  At four, I was too young to get out there with a hoe (!) and it looked like my father was in for many a backbreaking day, until...the man across the street, who also had chickens and rabbits and a fish pond and other new friends, hooved and otherwise, came over with a couple of goats.  Tethered to the old walnut tree but given the run of the yard, they cleared things out in a jiffy.

Students of World War I history will recall that the White House staff had sheep tending their lawn during the war, freeing the gardening staff for other duties.  The sheep were shorn of their wool, which was auctioned off for the benefit of the Red Cross.

Animals at work - and all they ask is something to eat!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday rerun (from 2009): Yes, there was a guy named Chip Monck

John Sebastian at Woodstock, 1969
On the Woodstock CD, formerly the Woodstock cassette, formerly the Woodstock 8-Track, formerly the Woodstock 3-LP set, you'll hear the voice of John Sebastian - same voice that sang "Daydream" with The Lovin' Spoonful and "Welcome Back, Kotter" - ask for a glass of water before launching into "Rainbows Over Your Blues." He dedicates the song to a guy whom "Chip" (Monck) just told him about...this guy's old lady had just given birth to a baby, and Sebastian just knew he was going to be a groovy baby.

That baby is 40 now. When he turned 5, there were gas lines and Nixon resigned. At 10, there was disco. He turned 15 in time for the LA Olympics, "Hot For Teacher" and the Colts being ripped off (still not over it!). When he hit 20, it was Tiananmen Square and the beginning of the revolutions that crumbled the Eastern Bloc. In 1994, when he was 25, he saw Nancy Kerrigan get kneewhacked on orders from skankazoid Tonya Harding, and watched spellbound as OJ Simpson took it on the lam. When he hit 30, the entire world was gripped by the virulent Y2K fever. And for his 35th birthday, Baby Woody saw Martha Stewart head for the slammer and the Red Sox beat the curse of the Bambino to win the World Serious.

Happy Birthday, Woodstock Nation! Lordy, lordy, look who's I don't know what!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, August 10, 2013

 If you like sunflowers, here's my early gift for your birthday.  Wallpaper for your device.  Happy birthday!
 Apparently these are giant decals or stickers, but they would give a nice touch to the steps leading to any library!
 So many people make that duck face with their own lips.  Here's a way to get a little help from the people at Pringles.
David Ortiz of the Red Sox was signing autographs the other night.  Suddenly, the National Anthem came on, and he snapped to attention.  Someone had just handed him a baby.  I hope they didn't want the tot autographed.  Just remembering Ortiz's childish display in Baltimore two weeks ago when he smashed up a dugout phone with his bat after being called out, I wouldn't hand him a Baby Ruth and expect it back intact, but maybe these were Red Sox fans.  That would account for a lot.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Waffle Stomp

Remember those Timberlands that we used to wear when it used to snow? Well the hipsters, and I, call them Waffle Stompers because of the funny waffle-iron tread on the soles.

I was going to show you the video of the song ("Waffle Stomp") that Joe Walsh did for the movie, but YouTube deleted it. I can share with you that Joe had the following suggestions for persons looking for something to do...


Have doughnuts and coffee
With Colonel Khadafi
Write a new novel
That's perfectly awful
Buy some new work boots
Stomp on a waffle or two

Now, there is something to add to the list of things to do.  This is not the time of year to be stomping around in work boots.

But you can move to Fresno, California, Omaha, Nebraska, or Chattanooga, Tennessee and enjoy the new Taco Bell Breakfast Waffle Taco.   The taco features a waffle taco shell stuffed with a breakfast sausage patty and scrambled eggs, as pictured here.  It's being test-marketed in those three notably epicurean cities.

There has been a trend in this nation of developing new carbohydrate sources from old.  Hence the pancakes used as sandwich bookends at McDonald's, and the Krispy Kreme sugar bomb employed as a hamburger bun.  And the new Ramen burger, using mashed up noodles as top and bottom between a patty.

I'd love to hear from the nutritionists and dieticians among us as to where all this might lead.  Just because three food items  - a waffle, a sausage patty and a scrambled egg - are tasty does not mean that they have to be put together.

Next up, Pizza Hut will bring out the Maple Syrup and Grit pizza.  Just watch!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lowe never stops improving

My late father, the estimable Robinson B. Clark, was not a man given to wordiness and a lot of yak-yak-yak.

I'll pause for a moment while you consider how genetics works. These things skip generations.  And I am voluble because I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

Anyway, this meant that I didn't have to sift through a beach's worth of sand in order to pick out a few diamonds among the things he said.  And one piece of advice rings true down through the years, and I pass it along to you.  He said, "Never live in a neighborhood with an improvement association, and never get involved in any sort of homeowners' covenant."

I can't tell you how many times I have been glad to have heard those words.  When I hear from friends who are being told they can't put up a fence or paint their chimney white or have a fruit tree in the back yard, I know where this bossiness is coming from, and I run far away from it.

Things tend to take care of themselves.  For example, on recycling days in our town, we can put out anything recyclable - glass, cans, newspapers, the whole deal - in cardboard boxes or paper bags, or plastic trash containers that are emptied and left behind.  The guy across the street from us - the one with the blower who gets out there in the fall and blows his leaves off his yard and right onto the adjoining yards - has made a habit of putting his recycling in plastic bags, which are not allowed, and now the trash haulers are leaving his bags o' cans behind.  No neighborhood association meeting had to be called; no one had to get out the Keurig machine and make a Pillsbury coffee cake so that Jimbo, the lawyer from down the street, could draft a strongly worded email from the Painan Acres Improvement Association and Marching Society.

And then there's this.  A former marine captain in Atlanta wants to fly the US flag AND the Marine Corps flag on the front of his house (as you see at left) and the big cheeses that run his neighborhood - it's called Sun City, for crying out loud - are pointing to some ordinance they came up with, saying that each house can only fly one flag.

Because, you see, you start allowing Marines to fly their flag alongside the American flag, and the next thing you know, you've got anarchy in the streets.

Dad, I guess there is no need for an improvement association in Heaven, but I know you're not involved with one if one, indeed, exists.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Paper boy

It went largely unnoticed, but the only reason that Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for 250 million semolians is that negotiations to purchase this blog - the very one you are currently reading instead of doing something worthwhile - broke down at the last minute.

It wasn't so much the money.  All the money that we have sent to Mr Bezos via Amazon over the years in exchange for books, DVDs, tshirts, birdhouse kits, magazine subscriptions and tablets allowed him to spend 1% of his fortune to buy the paper that sank Nixon down in a watery mess.

Mr Bezos has his money, and he was itching to buy a paper, so he will have the Post and all that comes with it. I have plans to expand my blog into a printed daily tabloid edition, with headlines from near and far, complete sports coverage, and a special Maryland Close Up section with daily reports on how Stacy Keibler is doing post-Clooney, new ways to use old used K-cups as tiny pudding containers, the daily Jumble® (That Scrambled Word Game), and the return of an old family favorite, Marmaduke, to the comics section.

Other features of my print edition - soon to be available online as well - will be the Write Your Own Obituary section, allowing anyone with a retrospective view and 20 dollars in cash to outline their existence and say whatever they want to those they just left behind, investigative journalism that will provide an in-depth look at "What The Hell is Hummus, Anyway?", and a new version of the old TV Mailbag column, allowing people with a TV and a stamp to write in and ask why they don't see more of Patrick Duffy these days.

I plan to have a phalanx of reporters, wearing snap-brim fedoras and asking hard-hitting questions before calling me on the pay phone from a drugstore lunch counter and dictating their story in a rapid cadence, a couple dozen guys driving around the city, tossing wrapped dozens of papers in front of newsstands, and of course, plucky kids in corduroy pants and Andy Capp caps selling the paper on the corner.

Welcome to 1935!


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Watch your English

More for the driving rhythm and early-punk music than for the lyrics, I have always liked the Sex Pistols' song "God Save The Queen."  My many English and Anglophile friends will forgive me; I promise you it's the music and not the disloyal-to-the-royals theme of the song that so enchants me.  I wish all connected to the House of Windsor the best of health and happiness.  I just need jumpy music to drive to.

Now, if you clicked on the link and heard the song, which dates back to 1977, you might have had some trouble discerning the lyrics, as growled by lead singer Johnny Rotten.  One verse has always interested me, as a lover of the English language:

When there's no future
How can there be sin
We're the flowers in the dustbin
We're the poison in your human machine
We're the future, your future
We call it "Public Housing," while the
English say "Council Estates."
For all of us who love metaphors, how can you top the lament of a disconnected generation, feeling that they are flowers tossed into a dustbin?  Especially knowing that dustbin is what the British call a trashcan.  And it sounds so much nicer!  "Could you hand me that dustbin, please!" is so much more genteel than "Gimme dat trashcan, wouldja?"

I think that with few exceptions (in America, à la mode means you get ice cream atop your pie, and in England, it means "fashionable"), English English sounds so much nicer and better-bred.  We have news "anchors," which sound like they are dragging everything all to Helena Handbasket, while the British have "presenters."  How nice!  They present you the news!

In England, "graft" means hard work; in America, it means payoffs and political corruption (SEE:  AGNEW, Spiro T.)

An English hooker is the person in the middle of a rugby play. An American hooker will play rugby with you, all right, but it costs a lot extra.

The first floor in England's buildings would be what we call the second floor, which makes a big difference if you need to jump.

Across the pond, a bureau is a writing table, where people sit down and compose lovely letters to each other ("My dearest Wilberforce...") and over here, it's where we keep our underwear, including the boxer shorts with the big rip in the seat that we just can't bear to throw in the ...dustbin!



Monday, August 5, 2013

Not all right, Hamilton!

It's one thing to go around claiming accomplishments that one has not quite accomplished, but I'm quirky about it...I think of a whole 'nother angle to it.

Talking about this fellow Anthony A. Hamilton here.  I don't know what the facts are; I can't say he's guilty of anything, but the SUN paper and WBAL TV say that he, let's say it this way, inflated his educational background, resulting in a short-lived appointment to the Baltimore city school board.  For one thing, they say that Hamilton claimed to have a Master's Degree from Johns Hopkins University.  Over at the illustrious Homewood campus of JHU, one of the finest schools of higher education in the whole wide world, they can't find any record of his being awarded so much as a campus parking ticket.  As you'll see in the article, there are other inconsistencies between what he said he has in his curriculum vitae and the good old truth, at least, according to the paper and the tv station.

That's a problem for the city, and if having problems makes a town good at handling problems, then Baltimore city leads the league, because from police trainees being shot in the head during an unauthorized training exercise to a middle school changing grades for a passel of eighth graders in order to get them out and onto high school, the city is jammed up with problems.

What's on my mind?  Two things.  First, I think of teachers who actually teach, standing in a class full of kids whose interest in J. Alfred Prufrock is a distant second to their interest in R. Griffin III.  Then, after a day on their feet, they race home for a quick sandwich and then off to night classes to get that Master's in Education.  The real kind.  The earned kind.

And something else...how do you face your friends and family when this sort of thing lands you in the paper and on TV?  This is not like an error in judgement made in the heat of an argument one day; this is part of ongoing mass deception.

I once worked with a guy - a supervisor, no less - who stole a very valuable piece of county property in order to use it at a part time job he had at some fried chicken stand.  He got caught and was fired posthaste.  He had a wife and children. How, how do you go home and tell them you just got a can tied to you because you stole stuff from work?

I need to stop looking so deeply into everything.  I wonder why I do that.  I need to look into why I do that.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday rerun: The Big Lake they call Gitchigoomie!

If you know me, you would agree that not many people look, talk, walk, think, drive or choose things the way I do.

Which is fine!  It's variety that makes life so interesting.  Takes every kind of people to make the world go 'round.

The Carnival "Splendor" (sic)
I say all this for one reason. If someone who looks like me, talks like me, walks like me, thinks like me, etc etc, ankles up to you one day and says, "Peggy and I are going on a cruise to the Gilligan Islands!" I want you to call the police right away.  That person is an impostor, out to claim my vast six-figure fortune (if you count the numbers to the right of the decimal point in our bank statement) and parade around as me, for whatever horrible reason he might have.

Appealing as the prospect of floating around the seas off Mexico on a broken-down boat with no electricity or running water or air conditioning or TV, but plenty of stench, Spam and discontent among our fellow sail-ers might be, I just can't imagine it.

Those who enjoy cruises are welcome to my share of the high seas, and I'll just stay here, watching "Titanic" and listening to Gordon Lightfoot sing about his friend Ed.


Edmund.

Edmund...Fitzgerald.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Saturday Picture Show, August 3, 2013

I saw this online.  It looks old, but it might be new-trying-to-look-like-it-came-from-the 30s.  You never know.  I had an experience, though, the other day at the gas pumps.  An unpleasant woman about my age (no need to be unpleasant about my age!) started carping about:  the president, the price of gas, why she had to walk 10 feet to pay the guy in the little cinderblock hut, why the president hates all Americans, how she could have saved 3¢ per gallon by going a block further, how everyone is out to cheat her, and how she is not going to take it anymore.  I said, quite involuntarily, "Does that mean you're also not going to talk anymore?  That would be a good thing!"  I really didn't plan to say it out loud, but I did.  And I'm sort of glad.
As colossally elegant as this suit is, it takes on almost cosmic importance when you look at it, knowing that it was a suit worn by Hank Williams, Sr.  It's currently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where one of my long-ago students, Howard Halpren, saw and photographed it. If you don't care for the brand of country music that Hank more or less created singlehandedly, only to have it crushed beneath the ill-shod feet of Lady Antebellum and other "modern country" musicians, that's fine.  But for us true believers, this is like seeing the jacket that Moses was wearing when he brought down the tablets.
I used to own quite a few Lacoste shirts, with those little alligators on them.  I also had a tshirt with a picture of an alligator wearing a shirt with a picture of a little man on it.  But here is the coolest thing I've seen for a while...a woman wearing a lizard on her shirt.
The suspicion is that this person bought this vanity tag because police would let him speed, rather than run his tag for a wanted check and writing the most confusing traffic offense ticket ever.  But here is how the officer would check the tag: "10-28 and 10-29 on Ohio registration Nora Mary Nora William Mary Nora Mary."    Huh?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Barking up the wrong tree

Every time I hear a really poor jingle on the radio or TV, I always think that the singers were always the best singers in their junior high and high school and church choirs and choral groups, and had then headed off to NY or LA or what-have-you to reach the upper brackets of show bidness, such as being one of the backup singers for Beyonce before being discovered and having big hit records of their own.

Or, alternately, winding up singing "800-588-2300...emPIRE!!!"  Or ..."LUNA!!!!!!!!!!!" or some other jingle.

I have time to think about a lot of things, you see.  And I feel sorry for the people who shot for the moon and wound up in Cleveland, singing on McDonald's jingles.

And then there are those who go into broadcasting, hoping to produce the Letterman show or be a camera operator, twirling knobs at the FOX News, trying to bring Steve Doocy's face, if not his thoughts, into focus.

Many people who had dreams of being involved in television for humans are going to have to settle for jobs on the newest network to come along.

Yes, friends, it's DOG TV, where for just $9.99 per month, old Poochie or Fido or Dizzy or Hammerhead can sit in front of the TV all day while you go out and earn another $9.99 to pay for it.  If you click on the link, you can see a little promo on YouTube and get to envision what Snoopy will see when he plops down.

Of course, competitive channels will pop up, and they will show dogs how to get a better grip on the mailman's pants and how to hide behind the tire of a Chevy to get the drop on that squirrel that shows up every morning.  And then someone will have The Cat Channel and Parakeet TV and Ferret Place and where will it end?

I thought dogs liked to watch old sitcoms anyway.  This old dog does!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's for real

Not trying to step on any toes here, but I see that the popular reality shows these days are shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo," that Duck Dynasty show and the Real Housewives Who Have Been Indicted along with their husbands.

I watched Honey Boo Boo a couple of times and found it revolting, a family so engrossed in being gross and, well, kind of dumb.  It's one thing to mispronounce words, and quite another to do so deliberately, to get a laugh.  I mean, when a three year old wants bisketti for dinner, it's cute as all-get-out, but when that same request comes from someone in their twenties, we really should all get out.

Mr and Mrs Giudice
The Duck people, well, I have not seen their show, but from what I read, they don't look to be advancing the public weal through their program.  And now Teresa Giudice and her husband, from the Real Housewives of New Jersey, were charged in a 39-count indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, making false statements on loan applications and bankruptcy fraud. Each Giudice faces up to 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges.  These are federal charges.  This could result in them attending p.m.i.t.a prison.

There used to be a reality show that showed Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie going around bothering people from state to state.  They would come to town and get jobs for a day or two and live with regular people, and although the premise of the show seemed to be that P & H would make fools of the ordinary working class, they wound up looking like the fools themselves.  Remember the difference between a schlemiel and a schlimazel?  The schlemiel slips on a banana peel, but he lands on the schlimazel.

Anyone can watch what they want, but if you're watching these nasty Housewives or the BooBoos or whatever, tell me, are those the kind of people whom you would invite over for dinner in the real world?  My idea of reality TV is Orioles baseball, and Peggy says Jim Palmer is welcome to come over for a meal any evening he's free!