Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's the what?

Maybe it's because I am sort of slow on the uptake, but I am always the last to notice when someone I see all the time loses 67 pounds, or grows a beard, or has moved to Schenectady.  I guess I'm more thinking of the "now" than of the "then," but the point is, things can change a lot without me noticing.

True story - I saw a post on Facebook by a woman I worked with. I said I would have to stop by her office in the morning to show her something associated with her post, and she said, "Have you not noticed I left that job over a year ago?  I work for Johns Hopkins now."

There's no way to come back from that.

Misuse of apostrophes is also the pits.
So I guess I am the last American to notice that no one says,"It's the pits!" anymore. The expression dates back to the 1950s, and originally came from our overwhelming interest in armpit hygiene, when people started saying "It's the pits" to mean something stanky.

We used to say that about a crummy job, a broken bone, or an outbreak of nepotism. It was a standard punch line on sitcoms ("Junior, how was the first day of your senior year?" "It was the pits, Dad!") and a handy way of commiserating with the guy down the street whose car was ripped off and the only thing possible to say when your favorite TV show was cancelled for the all-new "CSI Indianapolis."

And then, suddenly, everyone stopped saying it, and I just realized that no one says it anymore the other night, when I went to say it, and stopped 1/2 way through, stopping just in time to avoid the embarrassment of saying something totally uncool.

That would REALLY have been the...pits.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Our Congress In Action

I realized a long time ago that I could never serve as a member of the US Congress. And no, it's not because my outlier politics make me as unelectable as Jim Irsay at a Baltimore Colts convention.

Congresswoman Norton
The problem is that the District of Columbia is ably represented (without a vote, but anyway) in Congress by the honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Ed Norton
And as a longtime "Honeymooners" watcher, I cannot hear her last name without hollering "NORTON!!!!" as Ralph Kramden did in every episode.

Final answer; TRIAL and ERROR
So picture this scene as Congress debates some stupid issue, such as whether one's devotion to one's religion gives one the right to discriminate against other children of the same God, and a distinguished congressman bellows, "I yield the floor to the representative from the District of Columbia, Ms Eleanor Holmes Norton..." I, in my seat working the Jumble ("That Scrambled Word Game!), would holler her surname as a reflex.  It can't be helped.

Well, last week Ms Norton made news without anyone screaming except for the other people on New Jersey Avenue Southeast in Washington DC.

Just another day at the Park
Rushing "to get to a television interview," she parked her grey sedan perpendicular to the sidewalk, in an area where the other cars park at a 45-degree angle, blocking the exit of a red truck, properly parked.

At age 77, Ms Norton remembers the good old days when every single second of every single life was not being recorded on video by surveillance cameras, law-enforcement agencies and people walking by with smart phones.  So of course, some eagle-eye caught the video of the parking job and her seeming nonchalance about it.

Contacted by the press later, Congresswoman Norton said, “Don’t worry! I have signed up for parking lessons, and I’m even thinking about upgrading to one of those self-parking cars.”

All right, join me now.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday rerun: Ralph Lauren's real name is Ralph Lifshitz

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, March 28, 2015

This is a tourist spot in Spain called "Caminito del Rey" - "The King's Little Walkway."  It had been closed, but is set to reopen soon for reasons I can't figure.  No walkway should be this harrowing, but then again, it's a free world.  Don't look for me there!

Our friends at NOAA got this picture of a raincloud from above, for the benefit of those of us who are usually on the other end of one  - and that's all of us.
The person who shared this is an urban beekeeper with his apiary on the roof of a tall building.  They say that urban New York City honey can be quite tasty because the bees can graze on rooftop flower gardens all over the big town.
I will admit, my method of smuggling beer into ballgames was always to cover a six with peanuts in the shell, but this is a better way - make a beerito and carry it proudly right up to your seat!
Sometimes, the perfect thing for lunch is the good old Powerhouse sandwich.  Mayo, lettuce, tomato, sprouts and Muenster cheese on 117-grain bread!  You can't go wrong!
This is an ad from 1953, long before everyone woke up and realized that clowns are creepy. I think it's the tiny hats.
Time for Easter eggs and all the fun of springtime!
Mason Jars are so handy to drink from, to put up fruits and vegetables in, and to hold straws. The straws add a nice touch of color to this picture.

Friday, March 27, 2015

If someone accuses Taylor Swift of using poor grammar...

Remember taking the SAT exam?  That dreaded Saturday in the cafeteria, with your pencils all sharpened and your brain somewhat so, ready to tackle analogies (APPLE is to FRUIT as FLANK STEAK is to  a) GROCERIES  b) MEAT c) PUDDING  d) STEVE JOBS) and definitions of arcane vernacularisms, such as "arcane" and "vernacularism," and math graphs,  and I don't know what-all else.  

I also don't know how well this sort of test serves to predict one's ability to do well in college, but then again, we are living in a world in which a youngster, son of a friend of mine, "was dressed in double layered pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a heavyweight hooded sweatshirt today, but he wasn't allowed to go outside for recess because he didn't have a coat. He was made to sit in the office with nothing to do."  And that was on a day when the temperature in Baltimore was well above freezing.  So, really. It reminds me of people who get so upset if someone shivers. When did you ever hear of a child who suffered hypothermia while wearing a hoodie while playing while it was above freezing?  I say, please get real, educators!

And I read about this while reading that the Princeton Review, a company in business to help anxious high school juniors prepare for the test, mistakenly called out the virtually-perfect Taylor Swift for a grammatical error she did not make in lyrics to the song "Fifteen."

They have a section of their prep course called "Grammar In Real Life," (as opposed to???) in which the practice test says, "Pop lyrics are a great source of bad grammar. See if you can find the error in each of the following."

After quoting lyrics by Katy Perry, Whitney Houston, and Lady Gaga, they claim that "Fifteen" contains the line 

"Somebody tells you they love you, you got to believe 'em."

Not a worthy subject of any criticism
But the actual lyric goes:

"Somebody tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them."

One of Taylor's fans read this, pointed it out to her, and enjoyed the singer's response on Tumblr:

"Not the right lyrics at all pssshhhh. You had one job, test people. One job."


Princeton Review was swift to apologize: "I want to make sure that folks know that we're big Taylor Swift fans and that we apologize for the misrepresentation in the lyric," The Princeton Review's SVP-publisher Rob Franek told MTV News. "I appreciate her response, but the question on the grammar still holds true."

Translation: "Hey we're cool, even though we get the words wrong, and the wrong words we quoted used bad grammar. Remember, maybe we can't blame that on Taylor Swift, but we have 'Princeton' in our name, so aren't we cool?"

Other vocabulary words that might come in handy include bumptious, conceited, elitist, supercilious, snobby, snotty, arrogant, high-handed, imperious, overweening, pompous, smug, stuck-up, and swellheaded.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where evil dwelled

The monster's house is gone.

The town of Newtown, Connecticut, has torn down the house where in 2012 Adam Lanza started his killing rampage when he killed his mother before heading to the elementary school for more unspeakable carnage (20 children and six educators killed).

Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra said this comes as a "big relief.  The house stood as a reminder to the neighbors and everyone in town of where that young man lived and grew up and did such horrible destruction to our community."

Hudson City Savings Bank turned the house and its 2.1-acre lot, appraised at $523,000, over to the town for free. The Lanza family sold the property to someone and the bank bought it up from that party.

The town also tore down the Sandy Hook Elementary School last year and a new school is being built on that same site.  There's no word on what the town plans for the now empty site of the Lanza home.

This reminds us, of course, of the Amish school shooting in Lancaster County, PA, in 2006. Charles Carl Roberts IV killed five young people at West Nickel Mines School, a one-room schoolhouse in the community of Nickel Mines. In that case, the West Nickel Mines School was torn down, and a new one-room schoolhouse called the New Hope School was built elsewhere.

How eerie will it be for the future students of Newtown to be on that same ground, even though in a new building?  How off-putting would it be to live in a new house built on the lot where Adam Lanza's house stood?

There was a similar horror up the road from my boyhood house when a young mom, having lost her way, killed her children in a hideously gory manner.  For years afterwards, people would slow down driving past the house where '"it" happened.
Former Lanza home

Perhaps the atmosphere above ground at the Lanza house is fouled and ruined for decent humanity, but what if the ground was used to grow food for the hungry, flowers for the beautification of all, and grazing land for animals?  It could be a way to salvage flowers from the trashcan of life.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

You never know

I remember the first few weeks after I quit smoking at 9:10 AM on September 17, 1988 (but who's counting?) because most everyone was supportive, and from that day to this, I haven't smoked, not a puff, and have no desire to.

'55 Buick
But, within a week of tossing away the butts, I was walking back to my truck after work, and saw a woman driving one of those gigantic 1955 tu-tone Buicks on Chesapeake Avenue in Towson. She couldn't have been more than 107 years of age, and was gripping the wheel with one hand as she piloted the barge through the pedestrians and other cars.

The other hand was occupied holding what I guessed was a Pall Mall cigarette that she was hooving on like it was the last cig she would ever enjoy.  Puff, puff, puff.

And it dawned on me that she was going to live and smoke forever. For all I know, she is even today cruising around the traffic circle in Towson, on her way to the Safeway for another carton of Pall Malls.

Happy Birthday, Ms Sullivan!
I thought of that lady when I saw this story from Texas
about a woman named Elizabeth Sullivan, who recently blew out 104 candles on her birthday cake, and attributes her superannuation to drinking three cans of Dr Pepper per day. "Every doctor that sees me says they’ll kill you, but they die and I don’t," Sullivan told CBS as she reached for another chilly 12-ouncer . "So there must be a mistake somewhere.”

In Texas, Dr Pepper flows from many public drinking fountains, it's so popular.  I don't like soda at all anymore but I used to like Coca-Cola and ginger ale. Dr Pepper, however, has a curious cherry taste that reminded me of carbonated cough syrup.

Their slogan used to be "Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4," which was designed to have consumers drink three Peps a day to ward off the slump between meals by slipping a cup of liquid sugar into their bloodstream.

Still, I don't see myself living to be 104, since I don't smoke or guzzle Dr Pepper, but if I did, it would mean I lived long enough to see Ms Sullivan dating Keith Richards in the year 2055.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Going Home

It's funny, how sometimes one picture will put you in mind of another, totally unrelated, from years and years before.

You may have seen the image of this young lady over the weekend.  She's a piccolo player in the Villanova band, and she was there in Pittsburgh on Saturday as her Wildcats lost to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 71-68, ending Nova's participation in this year's March Madness basketball commotion.  Just as the dance band on the Titanic played on as the lifeboats were filling up, the Villanova band played in the final few seconds of the loss that meant the team was going home, and this young lady, whose name has been mercifully kept out of all the news stories, hit all her notes through all her tears.

Part of college is learning about how life works, and this, while sad, is part of life.  Games are lost, hearts are broken, job offers don't materialize, cars crash, friends betray.  But, keep playing, stay in the game and don't give in to your tears, because games are won, love comes calling with a perfect bunch of daisies in hand, the right job opens up at the right time, brakes work, and friends remain loyal until the end.

And all the while, you keep hitting those notes the best you can.

The picture this reminds me of is the one that Ed Clark (no relation!) took for LIFE magazine in April, 1945, when the funeral train bearing the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt left Warm Springs, GA.  Chief Petty Officer (USN) Graham Jackson played his accordion (the song was called "Going Home") in tribute, as his tears ran down his cheek.

I love music, I love accordions, and I love people who keep marching forward through their tears.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's, It's, the IKEA Ballroom Blitz!

I consider that we are lucky to have an IKEA store very close to where we live.  If you don't have one, it's hard to describe what it's like.  Just picture a multilevel Cub Scout blue-and-yellow store with furniture and home goods and outdoor furniture and kiddie furniture and cookware and plants and lamps and bulbs and a kiddie ballroom (no dancing, plenty of playing by those who have attained the height of 37" and are potty-trained) and a cafeteria where you can get enough Swedish meatballs to give you blåmärkes (bruises) on your knäet (knee) if they drop on you.

I guess our IKEA opened 25 years ago, and I still get lost in there. It's a-maze-ing!  Do you know how certain restaurants deliberately keep it loud so that you don't feel like hanging around for a third cup of coffee and so more chitchat with your bizarre cousin from Illinois?  Well, the goal of IKEA seems to be to keep you there for hours on end.  I myself have missed several family functions and at least one orthopedic appointment because I could not find my way out of Home Organization to As-Is, because I always park near the 2 Hot Dogs and a Soda exit.  Fortunately, in IKEA there are hundreds of real beds and fake TVs in case you want to spend the night.

Over in the Netherlands, lKEA has had to step in and tell the playful Dutch to stop playing hide-and-seek in its stores. Last summer, some Belgians decided to set up a massive game in one of their stores, and, as always, a great idea crossed a national border just like poutine is trying to do here, come down from Canada and get Americans to eat fries with gravy AND cheese curds.  Over there where the tulips bloom and the windmills spin, over 63,000 people had signed up on Facebook to play at one of the chain's 13 Dutch locations.

Last summer, before the bigshots found out what was going on, a large group had a Big IKEA Hide and Seek in Wilrijk, Belgium, hiding in fridges, under stuffed toys, under the blue shopping bags and even in the storage space under beds.

“It’s hard to control,” Ikea Group spokeswoman Martina Smedberg said by phone. “We need to make sure people are safe in our stores and that’s hard to do if we don’t even know where they are.”

And disappointed Americans need not think they can still have a fun time with a childish activity in IKEA.  Sure, you have to be over 37" to get in the ballroom, but you also have to be under  48".

Leaves me out!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Rerun: To Thine Own Self

I found this image online just by stumbling around, and it really struck me that it would be a much easier world to stumble around in if everyone just decided to keep it real.

That's what the young 'uns say, right?  Keep it real.

For one thing, I have always been mystified by people who can keep juggling so many images at one time; it's hard to tell who they really are.  There are people who are willing to talk "street" to some people and then talk all high-falutin' with the swanky set.  I couldn't pull that one off, as I am not smart enough to remember what each different person thinks I am.  But you hear this sort of thing all the time, don't you?

"Yeah, dude, you rule, you're the bomb.  These DVDs kick major butt; thanks for burning them for me. I ain't looking to pay Redbox no dollar when you can copy 'em... Oh, hello, Mrs Worthingsham!  Lawrence and I were just discussing some significant movie releases, and he was kind enough to allow me to borrow his copy of "The Black Swan" so that my little sister can see it.  She so enjoys the ballet."

This is more than being Eddie Haskell; it's more like trying to be all things to all people, and Attention! Everyone who would try to do that: You can't.  You won't.

People who will run games with you, pretending to be your friend while running you down behind your back: more bad news.  How can they remember what they said to whom?  It must be some awful gift they have.

Iron-Bar Hilton at Jessup, MD
Rockports: Mallwalkers' favorites
It's just about the worst thing to be a phony, to have such a front built up that hardly anyone knows the real you.  Personally, I am about as far from perfect as it's possible to be without residing in the Jessup cut, but I'd never try to claim anything but my meager belongings, my little bit of knowledge, and the greatest thing in my life: my wonderful Peggy.  I drive a beat-up truck (I do my own beating-up on it), I generally wear khakis or jeans, a sport shirt and Rockports, and I feel very very sorry for guys who have to look at themselves in the mirror as they shave and see a bogus countenance leering back at them.

It seems that I have been reading a lot about people who have three or four personas going on, and I wonder why they would bother.  If all you have is all you are, and if you're being the best "you" you can be, please be assured that you are doing a lot better than the fakers.  Be yourself!  No one else can do it better!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, March 21, 2015

This is my beloved Towson High School, my maroon-and-white alma mater.  I won't sit here and tell you that high school days were the happiest days of my life, but there is something about the memories and friendships we forged there that doesn't ever fade away. The stories I could tell (and often do...)
You know, they say fish are very intelligent creatures because they swim in schools.  It looks like these Manta Rays are wearing their mortarboards for graduation.
Something about the flat earth and the hearty welcome sign tells me we're right in the middle of the Midwest here.
 I'm hoping someone can tell me what flower this is, because it's not a daisy or a rose, so I'm out.  Anyone?
Am I the only one who feels a little weird on elevated highway ramps like this?
I don't even mind bridges, but that ramp from northbound I-95 to the outer loop of
695, you feel like you're in that car from the end of "Grease" with John Travolta
and Olivia Newton-Dazeem.

Sometimes, for all the tender juicy steaks and tangy ribs and saucy pastas and succulent bar-b-q chicken in the world, nothing will do but a good old sandwich on 127-grain bread, with sprouts and tomatoes and all like that.  Uh Huh!
The caption was a little unclear.  This is either Cookie's Restaurant in Chino, California, or Chino's Restaurant in Cookie, California. Either way, you know they served nothing fancy, but the burgers were probably out of this world.
Here is the little schedule they used to hand out at liquor stores for the very first year of Orioles baseball. It's almost time for the 2015 season. Play Ball!

Friday, March 20, 2015

They share the town with Orioles and Ravens

I don't go to downtown Baltimore much anymore, but if I could travel like these guys do, I guess I'd be there all the time.  And when they get home, they do have quite a view of everything - the ballparks, the traffic, the other magnificent buildings, the random violence and mayhem on the streets.

But those streets are 33 floors below where this couple lives, and they have no parking problems at all, because they are peregrine falcons who have for years lived on a window ledge of what is currently called the Transamerica building on Light St way downtown.

A conservation group called the Chesapeake Conservancy makes their home for them and has set up a webcam where you can watch them doing their bird thing and sending Tweets all day long.

I don't want to tell you just what they hunt, but don't take your pigeon downtown with you. Peregrines are the fastest bird in the world, swooping down on their flying lunch at up to 200 mph.
And they are a comeback story.  They had almost been eradicated because of pesticides damaging their egg shells, but they are back and thriving in eastern North America, with homes on skyscrapers, water towers, and cliffs.  And this family has been residing on this ledge for 35 years now.

Tune in to the webcam someday soon and watch them enjoying their lives.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sky Pilot

Watch me tread very carefully here...we're going to talk about religion and money.

You've heard of Creflo A. Dollar, the Georgia megachurch pastor who wants angels to help keep him aloft.

Dollar is part of the new breed of preacher, like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. Preachers in the olden days drove beat-up Plymouths and were pleased to accept any and all invitations for dinner at the homes of congregants, where they would show up wearing a shiny suit and shoes that had seen the inside of the cobbler's shop more than once.  They preached the sermon on Sunday, came to Youth Fellowship that night, visited the sick and the disenchanted all week, attended choir practice on Thursday, officiated at weddings (which always sounded like they should wear referee clothes and carry a whistle) and helped at the bake table at the Oyster and Turkey Supper on Saturday.  If the Plymouth broke down, there was always some church member who ran a repair shop and would fix up the Belvedere when he got around to it.  Weekly attendance at Sunday services would average around 200-250, peaking on Christmas Eve and Easter and taking a major hit when the Colts or Ravens had a home game.

A 20 is called a Double Sawbuck because XX =20
No, Dollar and Osteen and Warren are following in the footsteps of Robert Tilton, a man I used to watch on TV because I was up spooning Rice Krispies down my neck at 4 AM.  "God don't want you followin' no poor preacher into heaven," he would moan on his "Success-N-Life" show, "so make your pledge unto me...sow the seeds..and it shall come back to you twentyfold." And then he would read testimonies from people who were down to their last double sawbucks but sent it to Tilton, and the VERY NEXT DAY, some stranger offered them a new job with a new car and a house all thrown in.  And all because they cast their bread upon the waters of Lake Tilton.

Creflo A. Dollar heads the Atlanta-area World Changers Church International.  He does not want you following a poor preacher, either, and so he is asking his flock to pitch in for Project G650, a campaign to buy a $65 million Gulfstream G650 airplane. The math is very simple: if 200,000 people give at least $300, he'll be flying around in style and you can look up and watch him zoom overhead in the 18-passenger luxury plane.

Dollar had a jet before to fly him around, but it broke down and I guess no one in the church operates a jet repair shop, so it's time to look around, because, “It’s not like a car where you can pull over on the side when something goes wrong,” he said in a YouTube video. “I knew it was time to begin to believe God for a new airplane.”

One Dollar
Dollar says that "Creflo A. Dollar" is his real name, and that he started his church in 1986 after seeing a vision exhorting him to do so.  In less than 30 years, he has seen the church grow from a group of 6 in a school cafeteria to today's megachurch heights. And you know what, if people feel good about giving him 300 semolians, who am I to say they shouldn't?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I always thought "D&G" meant Denim and Grunge

Fans of the sitcom "The Middle" know about the older Heck son, Axl, who joined with his two buddies to form a corporation called "BossCo" to do odd jobs and chores. The management structure is that they are all the bosses, since none of them wanted to have a boss.

Well, I might just have to form a company called "SorryCo" to handle the overflow work of the people who script and deliver apologies for people who wouldn't have had to apologize in the first place, if they had just had another slice of pie rather than talking.

Here we go! The international fashion world is abuzz because of remarks made by Stefano Gabbana, from the Italian firm Dolce & Gabbana. Gabbana and his work partner (and former life partner) Domenico Dolce decided that the world would be better off for hearing that they consider children who arrive as the result of in-vitro fertilization as "synthetic" children born from "rented" wombs.

Well, isn't that a kind thing to say?
Elton and David
Elton John, who has two IVF children with husband David Furnish, took exception to this viciousness, saying," How dare you refer to my beautiful children as 'synthetic'. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF - a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfill their dream of having children," on Instagram. "Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again."

For the record, neither shall I.  

But D&G came back with this 1/2-assed apology, which contained not a drop of sorry: 

"We believe firmly in democracy and we think freedom of expression is essential for that. We talked about our way of looking at the world, but it was not our intention to express a judgment on other people's choices. We believe in freedom and love."

We're not judging!  It's just that your children are synthetic!

And then we turn to the University of Maryland Women's Lacrosse Team.  The contentiousness here is that the older players on the team resent the freshman women (freshwomen?) for getting to play more this year, so they had a group slagfest on social media and made threats of violence and mayhem against the younger members of the team.  Someone found them out, and five women have been suspended from the team, but not from school.

Four of them huddled up with a public relations firm and here is their apology:  

“First and foremost, our hurtful, destructive words and tone are absolutely inexcusable on many levels. Our stance was utterly inappropriate and we are deeply sorry to the many we negatively impacted, particularly our hard-working teammates who deserve much better. Words cannot express our sense of regret and disappointment in ourselves. We know that everyone deserves to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect—we let our emotions get the best of us over time and we failed.

"While repeatedly asked to lend our perspective about the many elements which caused the UMBC women's lacrosse situation to escalate, we have been, and continue to be, focused on working privately with university leadership to move forward. Our goal is to humbly work through this difficult situation with hopes of achieving an outcome that makes the best long-term sense for all involved. Thank you for respecting our decision to handle this matter internally at this time.”

I don't know the exact protocol for apologizing to someone after threatening to kill them, but mentioning "utmost respect and dignity" and being humble about it are certainly parts of any such atonement.  SorryCo recommends saying, "I'm sorry for saying, 'Can we just kill them?' and 'What a b---h. Next time I won’t try and f----ing help her out with her ankles you just wait that b----h will have 50 more bruises on her arm than she already has and they will all be from me. I’m so pissed.' "

These young ladies need help in understanding how to regard others, as do Messrs Dolce and Gabbana.  First step: let them live as they see fit.  Second step: Have a nice bowl of shut-it stew.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Give them XXXIV years in jail

I know many people think nothing of getting on a plane and flying over the big wide deep blue ocean and making tourists of themselves in far-flung France, interesting Italy or sunny Spain.

I think nothing of it, too.  Wouldn't do it for all the tea in China, and that's an even further trip.

However, if I took a notion to traipse around the great spots in the world, I hope I could refrain from embarrassing my home country by defacing ancient landmarks like these two dizbangs, aged 21 and 25, from California on a Roman holiday, who snuck away from their tour group last Saturday and began scratching their initials into the amphitheatre of the Colosseum with a coin. They managed to scrawl a “J” and an “N” around 3 1/2 inches high, before taking a selfie with their handiwork.

You really have to be proud.  The Colosseum, the stadium in Italy that looks like Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh used to before they tore it down, was completed in 80 AD and was the site of events such as gladiator fights and chariot races and Madonna concerts.  (She has been around for a while!) It held 73,000 people, and today people from all over come to see this ancient building and walk where those fallen gladiators once hung around waiting to be eaten by lions.

These two women will be appearing in court soon.  I hope they are not fed to the lions, but only because I don't like capital punishment.  Maybe they could just have some lions chase them for 20 miles up the road or something.  What they did is awful.

Someone needs to tell me what it is about people that makes them feel entitled to deface the property of others, or the treasures of antiquity.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The only person you have to be better than is the OLD you!

I saw a blurb on the CBS Morning News about a woman named Melissa Cooling, a Marine Corps lieutenant, who is attempting to join their elite combat brigade.  Part of the test is doing pullups with a 30-lb. backpack in place and performing physical feats over a 16-mile course.

In other words, more than just a little stroll along a wooded path.

Make no mistake, Lt. Cooling is in much better physical condition than most everyone else, male or female.  But she is fighting against the old stereotypes, such as "women can't do pullups because it requires too much upper-body strength."

(People used to say that members of a certain race couldn't swim because they lacked buoyancy, as if they were aliens from another planet and didn't breathe through gills or something as others do.)

If you live long enough, you will see that people can amaze you with what they can do, especially after they are told that they can't do something.  How many times have you seen people overcome challenges?  It happens all the time.

But Lt. Cooling made a good point, one that's worth remembering. She pointed out that she did not want to be judged by the accomplishments of others; she only wants to be judged on her own standards.

If you set out to learn a new sport, try running instead of walking, take piano lessons, or undertake making a wooden cabinet, you can't compare yourself to professional athletes or Jerry Lee Lewis or the cabinetmakers on some show on PBS Saturday afternoon. Be fair to yourself!

Are you doing better after the first few weeks in your new sport? Are you running further every time, playing something more complicated than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", getting those mitred joints in place for the drawers?

Keith in 1965
Then you're doing great! Be proud, and keep going. Remember, the first time Keith Richards picked up a guitar, he didn't play as well as he does today.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Rerun: She Got Me For a Song

Saturday night, we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner...and Peggy thought that the last remaining bit of cheese had finally fallen off of my cracker.

First of all, I will admit to talking to people all the time. I love people and everything about them. As Bill Murray said in "Stripes," it's the STORIES! I love to hear peoples' STORIES! And usually with a few words and a smile, you can wind up passing words and smiles back and forth, even with someone you don't even know.

And I will also admit to having a base of knowledge that is wide-spread and far-flung. Most people think I fling it, and not far enough, either. What I'm saying is not that I am so doggone smart, but I have a lot going on up here in the old melon, most of it of absolutely no value to anyone at all.

And it's a problem, because maybe the reason why I can't learn new facts is that my cranium is already full of information such as Chuck Estrada's 1960 won-loss record and ERA (18-11, 3.58) and the name of the actor who supplied the voice for Mr Ed (Alan "Rocky" Lane). Therefore I cannot figure out how to do anything new or assemble anything Swedish. 

So you understand why my jokes are all old and so are the songs I reference. Good thing, because when the waitress for Cracker Barrel drew near, I saw her name on her apron. It was Lena. You don't meet a Lena every day. I might go months and months til I meet another Lena, so I figured I should make my move.

"Did you ever hear the song called 'Bald-Headed Lena' ?" I asked.

She allowed as how she hadn't so I began telling her the opening verses of this old Lovin' Spoonful number, and the look she gave me was one of wonderment, mirth, and no small amount of confusion.

"Bald -headed Lena
Has anybody seen-uh?
Cute as she can be!
She got a cue-ball head
that's hard as lead
But she's alright with me!

Bald -headed Lena
Has anybody seen-uh?
Cute as she can be!
She can't wear no wig
Cause her head's too big
But she's alright with me!

Sloppy Gertie, she's so dirty
Skinny Minnie, she's too lean
Racy Tracy's out of place
And Joanie's downright mean..."

Our Lena, who I hasten to point out is blessed with a full head of lovely, vibrant, healthy, lustrous hair, smiled, said she never heard of the song before, and did not indicate that she desired another hearing of it. Ever. She departed for the kitchen area.

Peggy, stunned, said, "What the hell is the matter with you?"

(This is a question that has come up before over the course of our marriage and my life. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.)

I said nothing was the matter with me and I thought that as a Lena, the waitress would like to hear the song. Peggy said, "Is her name Lena?" and I said of course. I certainly wouldn't have told her the lyrics to "Bald-Headed Lena" had her name been Louise, for the love of Pete. I would then have recited the lyrics to "Every Little Breeze Seems To Whisper Louise."

Once again we stood at the great divide, pitting my brash, flamboyant garrulousness with Peggy's classy, elegant dignity. One key difference is when we go to a restaurant for a birthday. For years, Peggy would have died rather than have the waitstaff encircle her and sing "Happy Birthday" and I would have died if they didn't!

Peggy wonders why I would say such dumb things, and wonders if I had hurt Lena's feelings. I don't think Lena was put out by the song at all. She brought me some extra butter for my grits with a big happy smile.

And that night, she went home with a bigger tip than even our usual 21%, "just because."

I just hope she told her whole family that there's a song about her.  It's cool to have that sort of thing going on. If there were a song called "Bald-Headed Mark," I would sing it all day long.

And I just might anyway.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Saturday Picture Show, March 14, 2015

Nature did not give the weasel wings to fly, but like many other animals, this little guy figured a way to get around pretty nicely. Just moments before, he was seen hitchhiking along the highway, and along came a woodpecker...
One great thing about baseball and its uniforms is that teams don't run out and change their logos every five minutes.  Most of these teams will wear the same hat this summer.  The Houston Colt .45s, still the dumbest name for a ballclub ever, are now the Astros, and play in the far-superior American League.
Yes, it's back!  Magic Eye pictures, so popular in 1990, are back to bedevil the astigmatic once again.  You have to make this image as large as you can on your screen and stare at the middle of the picture and let your eyes go all kitty wompus.  We're not horsing around!
At first glance, this would appear to be a painting on a wall, but glance again!
I'm crazy about Sriracha hot chile sauce, and now some enterprising people have found a way to add it to beer, or add beer to it, whichever. I might just have to try a case or two to see how it is.
For those of us who believed the late Cretaceous period ended some years ago, here is a creature from that era, who has moved into a home on the Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood, Florida, over the weekend. Carl Spackler, report to hole #3 at once!
A couple of years ago, we found a picture from Italy of a fire department bike, which carried a hose for emergency purposes. Here are people who have rigged up a bicycle for non-emergency purposes - the Picnic Bike! Notice, it has tiny little speakers in there so they can enjoy music or the ballgame while they snack!
Up in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, giant ice chunks are washing ashore now that the grip of winter is easing.  If there were only some way to ship all this ice to drought-ridden northern California...