Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What a revolting development

If this is the biggest deal I can grumble about today, I guess I am pretty well blessed.  But for crying out loud, could the developers of new housing developments around here be a little more creative with the names of their, well, developments...and street names.

I'm sure this happens all over the world.  Let's say the more desirable section of your town is called "Swankytown" by those who live there and by those who wish they did.  The seedier section, with the car parts in the yard and the brothers-in-law wearing wifebeaters while sitting on folding patio chairs in the front yard, hooting at passersby and teasing the bloodhound, let's call that "Skidville."

There is no more land available to build new houses in Swankytown, so builders will buy former gravel pits and farm dumping sites in Skidville, lay down 1/4" of topsoil, and start building houses on 1/5 acre lots in new developments called "Swankytown Overlook," "The Reserve at Swankytown East," and "Swank's Choice."  From all of these sites, you wouldn't want to have to walk to Swankytown proper without packing a nice lunch.

Then the developer starts naming the streets.  Now that every Scottish, Irish and English town name in the atlas has been used for road names in Baltimore County, they have taken to naming streets for their own grandchildren, so you pass streets named "Heather Nicole Court" or "Brooklyn Grace Drive."  Or the portmanteau streets, from chopping up names, e.g. "Logagail Lane" or "Makaymonic Place."  

It gets worse when developers can't spell. Right around the corner from us is "Britinay La", the result of someone who can't spell Brittany and has forced everyone who lives there to repeat, a thousand times a year, "No, it's B-R-I-T-I-N-A-Y!"   And just the other day, we saw a road down in Cowenton, a part of town that is doing all it can to be called "White Marsh." That road is called "Morning Dove Way," but a quick googlization shows the same mistake being made in Oceanside, California and Marsing, Idaho.

I'm officially in mourning for the English language. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Medical Assurance

Alan King used to do great routines about doctors and lawyers and house painters and such, and they were funny.
  An elderly man went to the doctor complaining of aches and pains all over his body. After a thorough examination, the doctor gives him a clean bill of health. 
“Who asked you to make me younger? Just make sure I get older!” 
“You’re in fine shape for an eighty-year-old. After all, I’m not a magician – I can’t make you any younger,” said the doctor. 

It's not as funny, for real, when a real doctor makes a real mistake. My mother, whose health is not at all good at age 88, recently underwent a series of iron infusions to try to get her past the anemia that has plagued her since childhood and is now making things ever more difficult as she battles other issues.  At 88, you need all the strength you can get, that's for sure.

So we were hopeful for good news when we went to see the doctor for the results of blood testing after the iron went to work.  We waited as the med tech took more blood for testing, and soon the doctor appeared, with notebook computer in hand. If you've ever seen the movie "The Hospital," where the bumbling doctor walks into a patient's room, takes a cursory glance at a chart and says, "Well, Drummond, you're none the worse for wear!" and the patient explodes, "I'm not Drummond, you monkey!" then you know how I felt when the doctor knit his brow and pursed his lips and said, "Your mother's iron levels are low...I'm going to recommend that she comes in for some iron infusions..."

And I did not call him a monkey, but I said, "Are you talking about the same procedure she's just had for the past month?"

Oh, how he blushed.  He got all tomato-faced, reminding me of the quote from English temperance leader Clara Lucas Balfour, defining a blush as "The ambiguous livery worn alike by modesty and shame."

But, did he say, "Wow!  Look at me, almost sending your mom to repeat something she already had done!"  He did not.  He stuttered and stammered, "Well, I had not reviewed her files before I came in... I"

Not trying to harsh out the good doctor here.  The point is, everyone is going to make mistakes, from the best to the worst of us. (The worst of us just make our mistakes on nationwide TV.) Something they might want to teach in medical schools, yea, in all schools everywhere, is how to be gracious enough to say, "Whoa! I was wrong there!  What I should have said was..."

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Victor Newman!
I can say this because I have a track record of being wrong about things and have learned that it's just best to say so and get things back on the right track.  Like when soap opera actor Eric Braeden (born Hans Jörg Gudegast) told Keith Olbermann that soccer would one day eclipse all other sports in popularity in the US, we're all wrong now and then.  Another piece of advice: if there is a chance that you are going to be wrong, do not be wrong in front of Olbermann.  He is not "Frozen." He will not let it go.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nicknames In The News - 1980s edition

I'm fascinated by nicknames, and love finding out where they came from.  This might be attributed to being a man married to a "Peggy," whose real name is Margaret.  It took years to figure out that "Margaret" became "Meggy," which then became "Peggy." 

Bon Scott (l)
This does not explain why the nickname for "Mark" is not "Park," but I let it go because I wondered how come flamboyant pint-sized AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, born Ronald Belford Scott in Scotland, came to be called "Bon."  I've heard two stories.  In a radio interview, the late singer (alcohol overdose, 1980) said that his mother thought he was such a "wee Bonnie lad" that he came to be called "Bon," but another account holds that after his family moved to Australia in his childhood, there was also another "Ron" in the class, so the kids riffed on "Bonnie Scotland" and called him "Bon" Scott.  I'll provide this 1979 German TV clip so that my friend Ruth will have something to start off her day!

Another interesting nickname is the one carried around by former New York Yankee manager Billy Martin. If you thought he was born William Martin, sorry.  Nothing was ever that easy for the man born Alfred Manuel Pesano Jr. in Berkeley, California in 1928. Pesano Sr. deserted the family and young Alfred(!) was soon adopted by his mother's next husband (she had a few) who was named Martin.  His Italian grandmother, noticing what a darling, adorable little boy she saw running around in the yard bullying the other kids, began calling him "Bello," Italian for "beautiful."  By the time she was fitted for corrective eyeglasses, the name had morphed into "Billy," although the late Alfred (DWI accident in his own driveway, Christmas 1989) did plenty of bellowing during his playing and managing days.

That's it for today!  Next time, let's look at why they call Richard Bruce Cheney "Dick."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday rerun: Dated Comments

Note: this is from 2012, so don't go off thinking that we're in another leap year, please.   -- Ye Ed.

I'm a bit of a dumpster diver, I'll admit it.  And I'm always on the lookout for boxes to use for recycling, so I snag 'em from the recycling area at work to take home and fill up with used newspapers and beer cans.  

So today I was over there in Papertown and I saw a 2001 calendar that someone had gotten rid of.  It was striking, to see that.  It reminded me of when you see a rusted, junky hulk of an old car on the side of the road, steam spewing out of its snout like a Gingrich tantrum, and you think of the day some happy family got that Delta 88 when it was brand new, and how they all piled into that Oldsmobile for a ride over to Cousin Al's and then a stop at Scoops, the ice cream parlor.  For the first few weeks, until Dad spilled egg foo young all over the front seat, no one was allowed to eat in the car.  Ah, the memories!

When this calendar was printed up in late 2000, the world had been through its Y2K crisis and everything seemed to be OK, but a few hanging chads later, things changed.   Still, there was nothing about Tuesday, September 11, 2001 that seemed to augur anything evil.  Just by looking at the calendar, it was going to be another Tuesday, that was all.

I have framed in our garage a work schedule that my father made up for the last three months of 1941.  I keep it around because it is an early example of the perfect calligraphy that he used every time he wrote anything.  From a formally done wedding commemoration, to the face on the grandfather clock he made us, to a note to an adolescent me reminding me to change the oil in the Plymouth, cut the grass and sweep out the workshop, everything he wrote was a work of art.  So I figure it was during the summer of 1941 that he laid out the calendar for the final quarter, and you can look at this chart and see who was working at the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company in his department on that Sunday morning, December 7, "a day which will live in infamy."

They're all just dates on a calendar, 365 per year, except this year when we will have 366.  Until something happens that makes a day of memorable happiness or one of memorable enormity, we never know. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, April 26, 2014

 First stop today is at an Irish castle, somewhere near the peaty shores of Glocca Morra.  (You remember Peaty Shores as the affable weather guy on the six o'clock news, right?) These places, when you read about them, were always built in like 1238, and you can only wonder what a tough time the contractor had getting materials to the jobsite, with so few Home Depots open then.
 Here's a backpack having a whale of a good time.
 These are kids in India who want to learn.  So desperate are they for education that they do not mind sitting under a bridge abutment, barefoot, while learning from men in their town who have made ersatz chalkboards on the walls of the abutment of the bridge that these young people will take as a bridge to success. Meanwhile, back in the United States, children protest having to wear decent clothing to class while I read about a boy in India whose deepest desire is to own a pencil.
You can climb a mountain, you can swim the sea, you can jump into the fire, and you can go to Mars, and there will be a police force on duty, because some people just can't seem to behave without them.

 From the Allman Brothers Band Museum in Macon Georgia, this is a picture of the bedroom of founding member Duane Allman as it appeared a year before his death in 1971. The Buddah represents Duane's interest in people and their ways all around the world; the egg timer is there because one of the early incarnations of the band was a group called "Hourglass."
I am not about to turn the Picture Show into some sort of cheesecake gallery where gratuitous pictures of pretty women are displayed for no reason other than to present pictures to be ogled. This young lady is Julia Lily Kova Zabolotnikova, who was born in Russia and has since moved to Miami to pursue work as a model and singer. The one and only reason I present her lovely image to you is to tell you that all through my primary education, I was told that Russian women all looked like Nikita Khrushchev, and I share this picture to prove that theory wrong.

Friday, April 25, 2014

They used to call "making out" "necking" and now they don't even call it "making out" anymore

I have nothing against tattoos, in case you were asking.  Adorn your skin as you see fit, but all I ask is that you ignore my guffaw at "TOUCH OF CLASS" tramp stamps. Meanwhile, I've always planned to have "I'm the only hell my mother ever raised" emblazoned on my bicep, so who am I to judge?

However.  Teardrop tattoos just below the eyes generally mean something not-so-great about the wearer.  Either the person has been in jail, or has been involved in a murder, or has lost a loved one in a violent manner: those are the reasons behind most tattletale teardrop tats.

Looks good on you, though!
Add to that the word MURDER in ALL CAPS around your neck, and you have the visual presented by Mr Jeffrey Wade Chapman, who is about to stand trial in Barton County, Kansas for the 2011 murder of Damon Galliart.  Represented by Attorney Kurt Kerns, Chapman is appealing to the court out there to allow the jail where he currently sits in stir to send over a tattoo artist to remove the MURDER word from his neck.

So, there it is: A man on trial for murder who once went to a tattoo guy to have the word MURDER etched into his body now does not want a jury to see the word MURDER on his body, for fear that they will convict him of murder because of it.

The State of Kansas says they don't care what he does about it, knowing full well that local sheriff Brian Bellendir knows a) that under state law, a tattoo artist can only practice at a licensed facility, b) the local hoosegow is not a licensed facility and c) there is no way on God's green earth that the county will take Chapman on a field trip to get his neck cleared up.

No one has been executed in Kansas since 1965, although the state still does maintain a death penalty law, with the prescribed method being lethal injection.  There was a time when all executions in The Sunflower State were by hanging, leading me - a a death penalty opponent but also an opponent of murder and having MURDER tattooed on one's neck - to suggest that if Chapman has any sense of humor, he will have "PLACE ROPE HERE" written on the back of his neck. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Meanwhile, in Portland

Did you know there is a Dallas in Portland?  Not the whole city, but one Dallas Jeffrey Delynn, 18, who lives in that Oregon city, and like every single one of us, has to go to Tinkletown now and again.

The difference is that most of us find proper plumbing fixtures when it's time to see a man about a horse.  Young Delynn, at 1:11 AM on a Wednesday several weeks ago, found himself at Portland's Mount Tabor Reservoir #5 and found it necessary to make his bladder gladder, so he let it fly into the water supply.  This action was seen on surveillance video.  Delynn was charged with trespassing, public urination, nepotism and violating the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act,  and the two friends with him were also booked on trespassing and interstate flight to avoid infusion.

Delynn shakes hands with
his best friend (from official video)
Because Delynn could not wait to go home to break the seal, the city of Portland, just 618 miles from the Napa Valley of California where grape ranchers, wine fanciers and Boone's Farmers are screaming and crying for water, decided to dump the 38 million gallons of water in Mt Tabor #5.  Also, all birds flying over the reservoir have been outfitted with diapers, and the rats, mice, squirrels, chipmunks and warthogs who dwell on the banks of the artificial lake have been served with restraining orders and have been told to "Go to a Denny's or something" when they need to go Number One, thus keeping the water pure as mountain air.

Two other steps have been taken:  the city has contracted with TarpMasters Ltd for the purchase of a 17-acre canvas cover for the reservoir, and Dallas Delynn has been grounded until like forever, dude.

Look out, all of you alligators who live in the drains!  Here come 38 million gallons of h20!

Water is a big deal in Portland, like coffee in Seattle and grits in Alabama.  The water bureau there has its own Facebook page and slogan ("From forest to faucet, the Portland Water Bureau delivers the best drinking water in the world") but only 174 people like their page, which is certainly not a high-water mark.  They have a YouTube page, which must contain fascinating video of water flowing here and there, a Twitter account, and a blog.

Who in their right mind has a blog?

But I keep trying to get back to the fact that not all that far from Portland there exists a huge drought, and there ought to be a way to get those 38 million gallons of water from there to there.  UPS and FedEx are two ideas, along with a really long pipe. But according to Jaymee Cuti, spokesperson for the water board ( I knew Dick Cheney was involved in this!), "We're not in a drought in Oregon. And we don't supply water to places that are in drought."

Not even if they come up there with 38 million buckets.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take Me Out OF The Ballgame

I watch a lot of baseball games because I love a) the game itself and 2) my Orioles.  Maybe not even in that order, but I marvel at the men who can throw a baseball 60' 6" and hit a strike zone not much bigger than some totebags, or men who can hit that baseball 450' or run and catch a ball that someone else hit.

The ballplayers I was raised watching had names like Clint "Scrap Iron" Courtney and Enos "Country" Slaughter, monikers that left no doubt about their commitment to hustling and giving every ounce of the effort they had as they cavorted around in soggy wet flannel uniforms.  And I am happy to see that I rarely if ever see a poor or lackadaisical effort on the part of my local nine, rakishly clad in tailored polyester as they are.  Sure, they make mistakes; they drop balls, they throw the wrong pitch in the wrong place to the wrong hitter, and they strike out.  As is often said, baseball is the only endeavor where you can be a huge star by being successful 3 out of 10 times.  It's not the results, it's the effort.

And that brings me to this Bryce Harper fellow who plays for the Washington Nationals.  On Saturday, his turn at bat resulted in a grounder back to the mound, so he jogged halfway to first base and then veered off to run to the dugout even before the play was complete.  Sure, it's one time in a thousand that this play doesn't result in an out, but the point is, a true competitor (and showman, because let's face it, these people are entertainers as much as athletes) gives full effort every time on every play.

No kidding: Harper's investments include ownership
 of a company that sells that eyeblack goo. Here,
he models two weeks' worth of his product.
For his blatant dogging (and is that fair to dogs, who always run when we play with them?) Harper was shown to a seat on the bench, the ultimate humiliation for a man who apparently considers himself the greatest ballplayer who ever lived.  I have to applaud the Washington manager, Matt Williams.  If he doesn't expect the big stars to follow the little rules, how can he expect the rest of the team to do so?

Thomas Boswell, writing of this in the Washington Post, says there are two kinds of ballplayers: those who have been humbled, and those who are about to be humbled.  I think that works for all of us in whatever walk of life we pursue. As another writer long ago put it: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

And while I'm picking on baseball players, let me say this to the Boston Red Sox:  just because you don't swing at a pitch does not necessarily mean it's not a strike.  The O's just played these people four games, and every time a strike was called on a Red Sock, you would have thought the umpire was asking to commit an act of defenestration with the guy's sister, so great were their looks of outrage and dismay.

Batter up!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Rocky: "I can't see nothin, you gotta open my eye.
 Cut me, Mick."
 Mick: "I don't wanna do it."
 Rocky: "Go ahead, cut me."
Being so busy training for upcoming marathons (they are about to rerun the entire Murphy Brown series on Encore, and there's always the Rocky marathons on TCM) that I neglected to write about this on April 14,  I hope today is not too late to learn about something that was probably on one of those "Rest Of The Story" deals that Paul Harvey used to do.

April 14, 1865 looked like a pretty good day for President Abraham Lincoln.  Although he had no way of knowing that we'd still be arguing about it in 2014, the Civil War had ended with Robert E. Lee surrendering at Appomattox, VA.  All of the soldiers were sent home, with prisoners freed and sent home as well. The nation was set for Reconstruction, and all prospects pleased Lincoln, except that his wife wanted him to go see a play.  "It's only one night," he probably thought as he went about his presidential business, signing this and proposing that.

One of the bills he signed that day, the last day of his life, created the “Secret Service Division of the Department of the Treasury.”   That's what we call the Secret Service today, men and women who accompany the president on his travels, protecting him, and also getting drunk and having intoxicated arguments with prostitutes around the world.  Lincoln could not have predicted this that day. He signed into law the bill that created the agency that today protects the president, we hope, and went off to see "Our American Cousin," devoid of protection.  Because?

Because the reason for the creation of the Secret Service in those pre-FBI days was to stop the flow of counterfeit currency.  They figure that one-third of all American money in circulation in those days was fake.  With diligent effort and hard work, today we're down to just one-quarter of our folding money being bogus. People wishing to make counterfeit nickels might as well go ahead, since it takes so many of them to buy anything anyway.

But rooting out the scourge of fakeout dollars was the prime focus of the Service for decades, until presidents James Garfield (1881) and William McKinley (1901) were assassinated.  Presidential security became their goal after McKinley was shot by a man inevitably referred to as "crazed anarchist Leon Czolgosz." (Garfield - the president, not the cartoon feline - was shot by the man inevitably referred to as "disappointed office-seeker Charles J. Guiteau.") Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley's uneasy successor, was the first president given Secret Service protection, and also the namesake of the Teddy Bear.

All high school history students may feel free to print the above and turn it in as evidence of how hard they studied over spring break.  All the facts are true,  just made more amusing with the addition of whimsy, which is in short supply these days.

Monday, April 21, 2014

So You Shouted!

"Every time I go to a ballgame, I always get the same seat: between the hot dog vendor and his best customer," said American philosopher Alfred E. Neuman. 

We go to lunch or dinner and the same guy is always there.  This is really weird, the way he can morph into being an old guy or a young guy or a guy in a lawyer suit or a guy who is the subject of lawsuits. He is always just a table or two away.  He is never alone. He is always male, for He is Mr. Loud Talking Man.

At first, when I was confronted by having to hear one end of a conversation from ten yards away (the other people at LTM's table never raise their voice, if they even manage to chisel a word in edgewise) in which I have no interest, I thought well, this poor fellow must have been born and raised in a machine shop, indoor gun range, or in the foundry where they made Hell's Bell.  Hearing loss would seem to be the only reason why a person, otherwise completely civilized, would bellow, hoot and holler like a guy rooting home a hoss down the backstretch at Old Hilltop.  

But as I came to see these people more and more, and saw that they did not employ ear trumpets to hear what their beleaguered dining companions had to say while Mr LTM paused to catch his breath, I ruled out deafness, and remain puzzled.

The other night was a good example.  We went to OMFGLOLFriday's with some good friends, and in the next booth was a guy belting back the Jack while bragging to some poor woman unfortunate enough to be his lucky date for a magical evening.  He bragged about how much he a) drank and b) screwed things up royally while attending college and yet here he is, enjoying great success as Regional Second Assistant Vice President for Corporate Sales, Baltimore Division, of a Fortune 4,000 firm specializing in industrial adhesives and solvents.  I think the company name is HiDryCloNoMoCo, Ltd, but I could be wrong. His whole sales approach to the young lady, for whom I felt more pity than any woman in the world since when I found out there is a Mrs Bill O'Reilly, seemed to be "I'm a lovable scamp with a drinking problem; you gotta love me!" which she clearly was not going to do in any sense of the word.

What's funny about these men is that when they finally shut up for half a mo to breathe or shove some food down their necks, the room quiets down and you look around like when the refrigerator stops running and that's when you notice the refrigerator had been running.

It's my bet that when he went to drop her off that night, she said, "I'd love to invite you in for a cup of coffee, but drove me crazy all through dinner, so why don't you just drive yourself on home and forget we ever met?"  At least I hope she did, and then had a blessedly quiet night.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Rerun: Chin Chin Cheree

Vinny "The Chin" Gigante was a mobster in New York, and from everything that I ever heard, a nice enough man.  I certainly have no grudge against him...

But I thought of him the other day when I read that all of a sudden, the most popular form of plastic surgery in this nation is chin augmentation, in a nation which, to listen to certain people, is in the grips of the worst national economic depression since they lined up to sell apples in 1934.

They call them "chinplants" and they are just the thing for people who don't think that their current chins stick out far enough.  Aging baby boomers who see a jowly countenance in their morning mirrors and teenaged girls who demand a greater resemblance to Jennifer Aniston are lining up to take one on the chin.
Aging males who have always wanted to look like Nixon or Jay Leno can now have that desire become a reality.

What's the difference?
People are saying that they really need a more youthful jawline when they are on Skype, videochatting with their friends and former prom dates, and they realize they don't look quite chiseled enough.  New Jersey is leading the current revolution; chinplant procedures in the Garden State are up 71%.

New Jersey is also a great place to get cantaloupes and blueberries.

Saying that makes about as much sense as going to a plastic surgeon to get a new chin.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, April 19, 2014

Quite a mixed bag this week...let's look at the big pictures!
The only thing funnier would be to have the guy smoking a cigarette while carrying a 5-gallon bucket of gasoline.  The very people who exhort us to practice safety sometimes need more practice themselves.
 For all the home handypeople, this is called "Drilling a pilot hole to insert the wall-gripper with a hook so you can hang up the picture of the grain silo that Artesia painted so well."  It's also the prelude to having to get the vacuum cleaner out to suckulate the drywall dust that the hole makes.  This handy idea is worth it! I just put a pad of sticky notes in my handy-tote!
 I saw this on several fire dept websites this week.  These ramps are used to allow traffic of the motor vehicular sort to proceed along a roadway without damaging the charged hose line or cutting off the flow of water.  They won't do a daggone thing except get squished when a train comes along, but at least the thought was there.
I love this one, not only because it uses the word "snigger" about snide morons, but because it's a demonstration that sometimes the cottage-cheesy cracker barrel folksy common sense lore that some find so enchanting is just not based in scientific fact, no matter how much it's repeated.  Space exploration is best left to people who know what they're doing; I think we can all agree on that.
 I once told someone that I examined the early, classic Simpsons episodes with the same intensity that a Kennedy scholar uses to look through the Zapruder footage.  Question is, is this an intentional "mistake" or an actual goof?  The photo shows Moe Szyslak, nefarious bartender, addressing townspeople along with Mayor Joe Quimby beneath the statue of Jebediah Springfield, founder and namesake of Bart's home town.  Eagle-eyed readers will be able to spot the boo-boo and write back to me, telling me what they spot.
I understand that Clarence Thomas, who holds a position on the Supreme Court, has not spoken out loud there, has not so much as asked a question or posited anything during legal arguments, since February 22, 2006. Perhaps he has been thinking over what would be an appropriate punishment for these jackanapes who gridlock traffic around the clock.  Clarence, speak to me!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Time for a new jersey

Oh, Lorde
Don't feel too bad if you don't recognize the name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor, or if you think she's the high school girl who wound up babysitting for Abercrombie and Hildegarde a couple of weeks ago when your brother-in-law and his wife, who were supposed to watch the kids while you went to the Rotary Club dance and installation of new officers for 2014, cancelled at the last minute because of reasons which will be fully aired at the next family birthday party.  I mean, she may very well have been the backup babysitter if you lived in New Zealand, because that's where EMLY-O'C comes from.  You know her as Lorde, a pop singer who has a real fascination for royalty and aristocracy, which led her to write a song called "Royals" when she was 16.  She took that name to highlight her love of all things royal, and frankly, given the way many Americans drool over foreign royalty, it would not be a surprise to see more kids from Kentucky or Oregon named "Wills" or "Duchess Kate" or "Boy George" soon.

16-year-olds will write about what they are obsessing about, which is why I wrote a series of poems (as yet unpublished) at that age with titles such as "Girls," "Beer," and "When I Get My License I Am Going To Hit The Road Like Kerouac."  I also dabbled in the limerick form that summer, with most of my efforts starting off "There once was a lady named Hewitt..."

The picture that
launched a career
But young Ella was serious about her songs, and added an 'e' to her assumed stage name to make it Lorde, a more feminine form. One day, flipping through a National Geographic magazine, she happened upon a 1976 picture of onetime Kansas City Royals baseball great George Brett, surrounded by autograph seekers while wearing his home "ROYALS" jersey.  She was gobstruck with the picture and sat right down and wrote that song, which apparently was a big hit record last year.  

I listened to the song, and it's not so bad lyrically; it's about not getting caught up in material success and so forth.  Wikipedia says it's about how bad it is to be "aspirational," and I guess that is bad, if all you can think of is the next pile of money you intend to jump into.  Musically, I think the song could have used a fiddle or two and a steel guitar, but then, I think that about every song.

News broke out of Las Vegas the other night that, at long last, Ms Lorde and Mr Brett had met, and she had the chance to tell him how the picture inspired her muse.  All very good, and I am thankful that she did not see a similar picture of a member of the Tampa Bay Rays togged out in his home jersey, or she would have written a song called "Rays," saluting all famous Rays, such as Ray Charles, Ray Liotta, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Ray Stevens, Ray Romano, Ray Manzarek, Ray Milland, Ray Bolger, Ray Walston, Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, Ray Kroc, Ray Nitschke, and Ray Stern. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The kid stays in the picture

There's this video, you might have seen it, that shows a teenaged Dutch girl growing from itty bitty baby to full-fledged teen in 4 minutes of time-lapse photography.

If you could go back and ask my parents, they would tell you that it seemed to take about 4 centuries for them to see me turn 14.

Lotte, age 9
But anyway, this proud papa of the Netherlands, Frans Hofmeester, decided, after baby Lotte was born in October, 1999, that he should get her to sit down once a week and be videotaped against the same rumpled white background.  14 years later, he has edited it all into a video that I am sure she is hoping that Dad won't get the idea to show to all of her prospective boyfriends.

How to get a child to park it once a week and sit for the camera? I suggest promising not to play any Tim McGraw/Faith Hill duets. That promise would induce me to do anything!

Another example of this real slow life sped way up is the 1971 movie that John Lennon and Yoko Ono made called "Erection." I can still picture John telling Mike Douglas the name of this opus. We didn't have color TV at the firehouse, so I didn't get to see Douglas's face turn red at the very mention of that priapistic pun. Mr and Mrs Lennon simply took a photo every day of the London International Hotel being built across the street from their flat, and strung the pictures together so you can see what it takes to build a hotel, in case your name is Hilton.

There are movies of Paris Hilton as well, but that's a topic for another day...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Edwina Farrell Browning?

We stopped at the Goodwill store the other day on the way home from BJ's just because you never know what you'll see there.  And everyone who walked in there that day saw a real live portmanteau!

"I didn't know they had pets at the Goodwill store!" some will cry.

You know portmanteaus if you've ever watched "I Love Lucy," stayed at a roadside place on the way home from a trip to Lake Chaubunagungamaug, picked up Labradoodle poop from the lawn, or stirred your Vodka-and-Clamato with a spork.  Or watched "Titanic" for all those scenes with the rich people's luggage being loaded onboard. (Poor people, played by Leonardo D. Caprio, used their left pocket as their luggage.) Those giant two-part suitcases that look like wardrobe closets with handles on top? Those are called portmanteaus, a French word made up from combining the words "Porter" (to carry) and "Manteau" (an old word for clothing). French linguists in need of a word to describe two-part luggage came up with "portmanteau."  English linguists in need of a word to describe two-part words came up with stealing "portmanteau" from the French, who immediately invited the English over for a turducken dinner.

So it's a portmanteau to say "motel" (combining motor and hotel), "DesiLu" (Desi and Lucy), "Labradoodle" (Labrador retriever and poodle), and of course, the deadly "spork," scourge of high school cafeterias all over, is an eating implement that's 1/2 spoon and 1/2 fork and completely useless as either.

Egg-Free Brunch? Emergency Food Bank?
This portmanteau for sale at the Goodwill looked like the one pictured here, but it had the initials "E F B" neatly painted in Times New Roman on the top.   And ever since, Peggy and I have played the EFB game, trying to figure out who he or she was.  Elbert Fabian Bolton?  Elinor Federica Bonaventura? Employee Fringe Benefit?

Imagine the places that portmanteau has been and been seen in, and now it sits in a Goodwill store in Perry Hall, Maryland, yours for $300.  Perfect for your friend Earleen Fay Bailey, who always liked to end her day with a nice Eucalyptus Foaming Bath!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

No time like the present

I must have written these thoughts a million times, or wanted to. But here for the one millionth time, I beg us all not to count on being able to say nice things or take nice walks or eat a damned hot dog or call an old friend or patch up an old sore spot or stay up to see a sunrise or go to bed to dream of any of the above tomorrow.

You have to do it today.

I love people, you know.  And I tend to meet a lot of them, which is why Facebook is so perfect for people like me.  I understand if it's not your cup o' tea.  It takes every kind of people.  

Not long ago, I "met" a fascinating woman named Holly from New Jersey on line.  I had been yakking about an old teacher of mine, and Holly had come across the estate of someone who may or may not have been the same person.  What matters is that a new friendship was born, and through that person I met a friend of hers, a lady of great wit and charm who had written a children's book and was raising a son as a single mom.  Probably because my inner 8-year old refuses all offers to suppress himself, I found a lot to talk about with these two wonderful women, and we commented on each other's statuses, and shared photos and news clips that we found amusing.  We'll call this second new friend "T."

Monday morning began as usual here. I got up, fried an egg and ate my homemade muesli, and walked down Facebook Avenue while the morning news chattered away.  Looking at Facebook, I saw that other friends of "T" were posting a lot of pictures of her and her son, and I thought that maybe birthday greetings were in order, so I went to her page...

Went to her page to find, not birthday messages, but eulogies.  My merciful God, what happened?  And I read on, to find that my friend and her son had been taken in a house fire some eight hours earlier.  I messaged Holly and we spoke comforting thoughts and I sit here now, typing, bereft, because once again a fundamental lesson is right in front of us and at the risk of sounding like Jacob Marley or something, I beseech us all to hug the people we love, and love the people you hug.  It's really that simple, and I'm not better than the next person at remembering it. Two weeks from new, two centuries from now, it's not going to matter whether or not your lawn looked perfect or you lost those last three lbs. or your hair came out looking just so.  What will matter is whether or not you made someone feel good.  Or, frankly, whether you made yourself feel good. Yup, we're responsible for that, too.

And what a nice touch.  After I talked with my friend and she had so many words of consolation, I went back to main FB, and these were the first two images I saw:

 Look up to the sky.  Look up and live!

Carpe Diem.  Seize the day.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Keep Right On A-Learnin'

We never know when we are going to have a lesson imparted to us.  For that matter, sometimes we have a lesson imparted and we don't even realize it at first.  This happens to those of us who are a little slow on the uptake, a group of which I am a charter member.  But maybe years later, you come to realize that someone showed a way of doing that impressed you and molded your future.

Ernest Ashworth, his suit,
and his toupee
Johnny Tillotson
The name "Johnny Tillotson" came up the other day.  Johnny was a pop singer whose success came in the early 60s with three big hit records: "Poetry In Motion," "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'," and the pop version of "Talk Back Trembling Lips" (Ernest Ashworth had the country hit on that one - the only major hit of his career, and doggone if he didn't go get himself a Nudie suit with big ruby red lips all over it and show up every Saturday night at the Grand Ole Opry and belt out his big hit as the crowd went wild!)

Enough about Ernest.  Johnny was a good boy, a handsome fella, and he did have his hits going for him until The Beatles landed in America and dashed the plans of a lot of Johnnies and Jimmies and Frankies and Fabians.  Johnny T, being a Southern fellow, tried the country route which had worked for Conway Twitty and a few others, and made some records with the country sound in the early 70s, all of which are unknown titles today, but those records are what brought his path into confluence with mine for half an hour.

I was working as a midday DJ, doing the Housewives' Hit Parade for Baltimore's #1 Country Station, soon to become Baltimore's #2 Country Station in a town that only needs one country station.  But we had no competition and were riding pretty high in the radio ratings when Johnny Tillotson showed up with his manager.

Johnny was appearing that night at a bar down the road a piece and he would really appreciate a little bump, a word or two to get the people to come on out and see him.  Sure, my boss said, just come on in, Mark will interview you, maybe take a couple of calls,  and good luck.

And that's what he did.  We talked on the air about his hits, and the memories that people would have connected with hearing "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin' " performed live at the fabulous Club Whoozit down on Rte 3, just past the split with the interstate.  I guess he took a couple of calls ("Johnny, this is Agnes!  Do you remember meeting me when you sang at the Sand Bar that time" sort -of - thing) and he was off, probably to grab some bacon and eggs and a nap before the show.

Now, here's what I took away, although I don't think I realized it.  Johnny Tillotson had been a big deal ten years before that, with appearances on Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand and the like, and now here he was with me in a radio studio. I probably had to move my lunch box and a stack of records and tapes so I could see him while we talked.  AND YET he showed not a trace of any of these:  ego, disappointment, superiority, big-headed show-bizzy-ness or phony humility.  Just a nice guy, trying to make his living singing his songs, coming to grips with the commercial end of not being nearly as famous as he had been.

I think that a person who can be as decent, as kind and friendly, at the valley of his or her success as they had been while riding the wave of renown, is a worthwhile person with the right stuff for values.  I see that Johnny is still kicking around the music scene down in Florida, and I have a feeling that he is still the same humble, straight-ahead kind of guy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday rerun: You Could Look It Up

This is from 2011...
I'm not sure where the word "almanac" comes from, just as I'm not sure where Rick Perry is coming from, although I know where he will be on Inauguration Day 2013.

And by this time next year, shortly after the election, I'll be able to tell what the moon will look like on Inauguration Day night, that moon at which Messrs Perry, Gingrich, Cain, Romney, Huntsman and Madame Bachmann will be baying.  That's because I am a big fan of almanacs of all sorts.

As a kid, before there was an internet, I would wile away many happy hours sitting in my hollow tree, reading the World Book, the dictionary, and various almanacs.  Almanacs come out in the fall of every year, and they are little soft-bound volumes containing information on the phases of the moon, tide tables, planting dates for farmers and gardeners, and fascinating little articles with tips on how to clean any stain with baking soda and vinegar.  I always make sure to ask Santa to bring me the Hagerstown Almanac and the Old Farmers' Almanac, and then there is the one I get free for nothing from the Johnson Funeral Home on Loch Raven Boulevard.  They call that one the Farmers' Almanac, so I guess one can be of any age to enjoy it.

A lot of us old timers used to keep the Almanacs hanging on twine near the phone, in case we suddenly needed to find out if there would be a full moon right after St Swithin's Day, but now, with more people using a cordless phone, or just a cell, I guess we need to find a web-based version.  I don't know if it would be as cool to thumb through a tiny Android almanac, though. 

There are also the big jumbo almanacs - the Information Please Almanac, the World Almanac, the New York Times publishes one.  These are walloping  hearty meatloaf-sized books, full of information.  Suppose the dinnertime conversation over at your house turns to the which countries are the greatest importers of Retsyn®, the golden chemical which cures stankbreath.  Or, say, someone is interested in knowing what is the state flower of Alabama (the camellia), the real name of Red Buttons (Aaron Chwatt) or what the flag of Moldova looks like, this is the place to turn.  

Even in the faraway Retsyn fields of Moldova, the world is a better-informed place because of almanacs. Here we see some happy Moldovan farmers, preparing for the annual Harvest Festival.  The guy in the middle - what's he holding? Why, an almanac, what else!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, April 12, 2014

There was a line in "The King of Queens" when someone tells Doug Heffernan that it is possible in this life to have one's own woodburning pizza oven right outside in the back yard.  The look of pure bliss that comes over him at the very THOUGHT of such a wondrous event is unforgettable.  I like to imagine this being in my yard, along with a big glass to catch beer as it rains down from a bountiful Heaven.
Just for comparison's's what it would look like if the United States was on the moon.  Listening to AM talk radio sometimes, I'm not so sure it isn't.
 And they try to tell children that clowns aren't creepy!  Look at this bozo, shoving a gram of sugar down his neck.  And just what does the red on his nose represent?  This is just weird.
 This is a colorized version of a photo of Abraham Lincoln camping with a guy who was a Civil War re-enactor, which makes almost as much sense, or less, than actually fighting in the Civil War.  If the pose seems to leave a coppery taste in your mouth, well, this is the photo that they used to create the Lincoln penny.
Globetrotting travelers will recognize this as the Hotel Grotta Palazzese in Polignano, Italy.  At first, I thought it was a really cool new dining area for a new Wegman's somewhere.  I wonder if the seafood is fresh here?
There's a line in the song "You're From Texas" that goes, "I bet my kale that you hail from Texas."  But this is not a field of kale, no sir.  There's another line in the song that says, "You've got a smile like an acre of sunflowers, and your eyes are a bluebonnet blue."  Well up here in Maryland, we have sunflowers by the acre, but the only bluebonnets we get are on margarine packages, and so here is what an acre of bluebonnets looks like.  George "Van Gogh" Bush is painting some right now as we speak, and nothing can be done about it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Once around the field, and then right off to a nice cold cell

OK, it was a bit over the line for Adam Jones, the Orioles center fielder and de facto team captain, to say that he wished a fan who had run onto the field at an O's game had shattered his femur instead of simply breaking his ankle in the effort, but I have to agree in theory with what he said to ESPN the other night. People pay to watch a ballgame, and they do not pay to see drunked-up ne'er-do-wells prancing around the field.
Adam wishes the drunken fool a
nice time at Riker's Island

The Tuesday afternoon game between the Orioles and the Yankees had to be interrupted for these shenanigans.  (Note, there is never just one "shenanigan;" it's always plural!) Afterward, Jones told ESPN, "You look like a [idiot] when you run on the field. We don't go to any other events. We don't go to other sporting events and do that to their jobs, but they come to ours and do that. I get it, you're drunk and you want to be on "SportsCenter." Your [butt] is going to jail with a fine, and you might not be allowed to come back to the ballpark."

Hmmm.  Imagine not being able to go to Yankee Stadium ever again.  Hmmm.

I was at the Colts game in December, 1971, when a fan ran onto the field and tried to run off with the ball.  After linebacker Mike Curtis shivered his timbers with a forearm to the solar plexus, the drunk ran off with naught but pain, leaving the ball and his dignity out there on the field.

Part of the problem is that some fans reinforce this misbehavior by cheering and yapping in approval, leading fools with more beer than brains in them to decide to jump the railing and head for center field (or the distant goal line). And people being as they are, a certain contingent among us  yearns for attention, no matter how it's obtained, no matter how negative it is.  This is why they do it.

Of course, if you're Adam Jones, this is your workplace, and just as Chief Justice John "Bob Johnson" Roberts does not allow drunks to run screaming through the Supreme Courtroom, nor should Adam have to put up with the same.  Add to this the very real fear that some crackpot is going to show up at the ballpark with a weapon of some sort, and you can appreciate Jones's apprehension.

Speaking of apprehension, the cops always get these guys.  It's a crime with a 100% clearance rate, so you'd have better luck sticking up a bank or something.

Book him, Danno.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


It was almost like finding a Wonderful Waterful in the kitchen the other day when I found one of those surveys that tore across the nascent internet back in the 90's like John Goodman at a buffet. We all filled them out and sent them on, and sometimes I wish I could go back and see again what I said was my favorite movie in 1996.  So for posterity, but not for the last time, I are the ABCs of little old me.  Emphasis on the Old.

A - Age: 62
B - Bed size: Larry King
C - Chore you hate: Cleaning out a closet
D - Dog's name: Never had a dog but would name one Elvis
E - Essential start your day item: hot tea w/ muesli
F - Favorite color: Brown and orange
G - Gold or Silver or platinum: Platinum
H - Height: 6" 5"
I - Instrument played: radio
J - Job title: Retiree in good standing (even while seated)
K - Kids' names: see "D" above
L - Living arrangements: in a big happy house with the greatest wife of them all
M - Mom's name: Beverly Elizabeth Willis Schissler Clark
N - Nicknames: Marky Mark, Mark E. Mark, Master of All Space and Time
O - Overnight hospital stay: two knee replacements (same knee), spinal fusion, unknown neurological problem when I was 12.  It was supposed to kill me, but look how that turned out.
P - Pet Peeve: Anyone being made to feel left out of anything.
Q - Quote from a movie: "Did you see the way I stopped the beanbag with my stomach? That's instinct. You can't teach that." - Johnny Knoxville in "Jackass"
R - Right or left handed: Left (quite apropos)
S - Siblings: One much-older sister
T - Time you wake up: 0515
U- Underwear: cotton boxers, plaid.
V - Vegetable you dislike: spinach
W - Ways you run late: I have not been late for anything since 1976! I am neurotically early
X - X-rays you've had: You name it, there's a see-through picture of it.
Y - Yummy food you make: They come a-runnin' when I slide a big ol' tub o'lasagna out of the oven
Z- Zoo favorite: Prairie dogs

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sometimes you Schwinn, sometimes you get all Huffy

I've told you before that, of the 23 counties and one independent city that comprise the merry state of Maryland, Anne Arundel County is consistently the one subdivision where the funniest stuff happens. I don't know why, but you have to give it up for a county that has a delegate to the state legislature, one Don Dwyer,  cooling his heels in the county hoosegow on weekends these days because of his DWI convictions (yes, plural.)  Last weekend, as his fellow senators and delegates approached the end of their 90-day term, they had to do without him voting on Saturday.

But he said he hopes the end of his term will come soon too.

Still at large, but a good candidate to occupy a cell near the one that DWIer (couldn't resist) is the guy who held up a branch of the Bay Bank
Here's where he got the idea
, in Severn, down near the US Naval Academy, and then made his escape on a bicycle.

A bicycle which he later abandoned on a nearby parking lot.

The local branch of the Ecology Club is preparing a plaque for him, in recognition of his public-spiritedness and interest in reducing the carbon footprint of society.  They just need to know his name.

Speaking of footprints...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Too early for dis

I like to get up early, catch up on the news, gobble some muesli, guzzle some tea.

Click on the link below to hear
"The Duke Of Prunes"
These days, the muesli and the tea go down much more smoothly than does the news.  Just yesterday, in one burst of news, I was told that I live - we ALL live - in a world in which New York cops and firefighters got together for a hockey game for charity, and a huge fracas broke out...students at the U of Kaintucky decided that the best way to celebrate winning the semi-final basketball game was so set fire to 80 couches...students at the U of Cali Santa Barbara decided that the best way to celebrate spring break was to hit a police officer in the face with a backpack full of full bottles, and then riot over it when the cop took exception to their "youthful indiscretion"...gun enthusiast Oscar Pistorius took a break from vomiting on the stand long enough to cry on the stand with his lachrymose apology to the parents of the young woman he shot to death...Mickey Rooney died, having been in show business since 1922, and the radio newsman said he achieved "great fame playing Andy Hardy in the 'Hardy Boys' movies" - which may have been the only movies without him in the cast...some butthead threw a live cigarette butt into the mulch around the plants outside a banquet hall in Massachusetts, burning the place to the ground as wedding celebrants ran for for their lives..."country" singers sang with people like Shakira and soft rock relic Steve E. Nicks at the Academy of "Country" Music awards show...and, saddest of all, as this horrifying spectacle unreeled before our eyes, America's eyes were averted toward Australia, all agog at the arrival of the Duke and Duchess, along with their son, the Duke of Snider.  I really have nothing against this young couple, but I think that being cast as entertainment figures on Entertainment Tonight and those other 7:30 shows reduces the majesty of Their Majesties.

As Mr Zappa said in "Brown Shoes Don't Make It, "Do you love it? Do you hate it? There it is . . .The way you made it . . ."

Tomorrow's news will be better.  It has to be.  It always is. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Right church, wrong pew

We've all been show up late, thinking your appointment was for 2 when it was 1 all along...or you spill your entire cafeteria tray, including the salad and gooey dessert...or you're trying to call a coworker in the middle of the night because there's an emergency at work, but you don't turn on the light so as not to wake your dozing bedmate, and you wind up calling some random stranger who didn't have to get up for five more hours (and tells you so...)

Doesn't matter who you are, something like this will happen now and then. The gracious among us shrug, make apologies as needed, and go on with life in good humor.  The bumptious oafs among us bluster and thunder, blaming their appointments secretary for telling them the wrong time, some phantom person who just tripped them, or the "stupid phone company" for giving them the wrong number. 

So that's why Senator Dan Coats (R, Indiana) gets a tip of the hat today.  On Thursday, he was supposed to be testifying at a Senate hearing on defense appropriations, which sounds as soporific as it can be.  Instead, he wound up in the wrong room and began addressing a crowd of Treasury operatives.   If you have the same opinion as I do about 99% of meetings I ever attended, which is that if all the people at the meeting had been back at their desks working, rather than sitting around a boat-shaped table, a lot more would have been accomplished, then you understand why the solon saw the usual assortment of people in suits and figured he was in the right room.  But, after someone handed him a hastily-scrawled note ("HEY!  You are in the WRONG ROOM! Back out now!") he was good-natured about it, and packed up his briefcase and left, presumably headed for the right spot.
Old yearbook photo

There came a time in my life when I felt like Senator Coats, and no one was handing me any notes.  In my first day of Towson High School, I stupidly asked a senior for directions to my Biology classroom, and he waggishly directed me to a classroom about five miles from where I needed to be.  I sat in that classroom as a thin teacher named Mr R. Blaine Gainer began laying out the curriculum for his English 11 class, and my 15-year old brain, honed to razor sharpness from a summer of watching "Where The Action Is" and consuming as many Kool cigarettes and cans of Schlitz as I could obtain, cleverly deduced that I was in the wrong room.  After about ten minutes, I somehow found it in me to excuse myself and leave for the right room, and I left to a trail of snickers and chortles from a roomful of juniors.

Flash forward 31 years, and I found myself entering the mausoleum out at Dulaney Valley for my father's funeral.  Right across the way from Dad's crypt is the final resting place of guess who?  That's right.  I hope Dad and Mr Gainer have lots to talk about in there.  Nice to know they have something in common.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday rerun: However you slice it

I want to do this carefully, so as not to appear to be poking fun at the person involved, because I'm not trying to do that at all.  Yes, I poke fun at the bombastic, the self-inflated self-important, but never at people who are just trying to get by.


We went into the deli dept. of a grocery store the other day.  We were planning to fix Reuben sandwiches for dinner, so I ordered three-quarters of a pound of corned beef.  The young lady sliced up the brisket and slid the package over to me...weighing .27 lb.

I said, "Oh, I need more; I need three quarters of a pound."

Puzzled, she took the meat back, got the corned beef out, and sliced it up.  This time, she happily slid across the counter top to me a package weighing .24 lb.

Sliding it back, I said, "I'm looking for three quarters of a pound here...we have two one-quarter-pound packages one more, and I'll be all set."

As other people with higher deli numbers were getting their cold cuts and moving along, I (#65) was still standing there, three quarters of a pound shy of three quarters of a pound of corned beef.  The manager of the deli, a beefy (!) guy, came over and asked her what was going on.  She said, "He asked for three quarters of a pound, and I don't know what that means."

He told her that three-quarters would show up on the scale as .75 lb, and she looked at him as if he had said all that in Mandarin.  Finally, he hit on a solution and told her to slice corned beef and pile it on the scale until it weighed .75, and then he helped her print out the little sticker.

Again, let me be totally clear; I am not picking on the woman.  No one ever taught her fractions.  Some school handed her a diploma and did not check to see that she knew rudimentary arithmetic, and here she is, out in the working world, and she won't get much farther than where she is because someone somewhere along the line said, oh, let's pass her, she's a nice kid.

I raged before in this space about creative spelling, or whatever in Hades the enlightened educators call it.  How sad that they think they are doing a fine job, churning out people who don't know three quarters of a pound from the correct way to spell abattoir.

And young lady, I am very sorry that they passed you and led you to thinking you were all set to compete.

I also need to point out that this new store has a very nice little device for checking one's eyeglass prescription.  It's sort of like that little thing at the Motor Vehicle Administration; you stick your face in it and see if you can read tiny print all right.  It's a great device...if you happen to stand 6' 5" as I do.  If not, tough noogies, because that's how high they have this thing set up.  Sorry!  (But it confirms that for reading, I am a +2.0).

And one last thing: the deli manager guy did not seem the least bit surprised or shocked by the young woman's unfamiliarity with fractions and quarters of pounds, leading me to believe this was not the first time he found an employee broken down on the same patch of bumpy road.  A road that we all paved.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Saturday Picture Show, April 5, 2014

This week, in response to public demand, SIX photos, not just four!  And still at the low, low Castles Made of Sand price of absolutely free!
I don't often sneak pictures of nekkid ladies on here, but this is rather clever.  It is not a bird, I'll tell you that right now.  Look closely!
The text I found with this picture said that in the Soviet Union there was a table for checking observation. Its name is "Entertaining table."  You're supposed to find the numbers sequentially from 1 to 90.  If you can get this chore accomplished in from 5-10 minutes, then you have exceptional powers of observation. 10-15 minutes - good. 15-20 minutes is average. 20-25 min - satisfactory.  There's no score for walking away mumbling, "And I need to do this, why, now?"
Eagle-eyed sports fans will recognize this as NOT being an official NY Yankees cap.  A guy with time on his hands, but not the 35 bucks they get for an official lid these days, got a black hat and hand-stitched the iconic NY logo.  That's all for "A Lot Of Work For Not A Lot Of Hat" for today; we'll see you next week, when a man from Cleveland will show us a new way to make a top hat out of Tupperware.
I like this idea and if we ever go anywhere again, I'll do it.  Cut those vacay photos into the shape of the state you were in and make a map!
One of the pet peeves that I inherited from my dad was the improper use of UPPER CASE in certain fonts.  You see a lot of people use all CAPS when they go for Olde English because they think it looks "classy."  Ask any olde English person and go upper and lower, please.  Another prime offender was Michael Jackson, who had an estate called "Neverland" after the Peter Pan story.  The ranch had 3,000 acres, a zoo, two railroads, a train station, and a sign that said "NEVERLAND" in a semi-script font that should never be used in all caps.
Poochie Dog here is, apparently, a Rolling Stones devotee, with a particular liking for the 1972 album "Exile on Main Street," the jacket of which featured a photo of a man with remarkably elastic lips:
And that makes 7 pictures and one song.  See you next week, when we'll take a look at the Romney family at work, at play, and shopping at KMart.  I have an exclusive photo called "Mitt needs new tube socks" that I think you will enjoy.