Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Rerun: It's Only Natural

Those movie people, man, I wanna tell you.  They take a story from real life and turn it into a...movie!

You might have seen that movie "The Natural," starring Robert Redford.  Baseball guy goes to girl's hotel room and she plugs him a good one right in the belly, see?  But then the kid comes back, see?  And hits a ton o' homers, see?

It was all LOOSELY based on a real story.  Eddie Waitkus was the name of the first baseman, and he looked like the young Redford like I look like any two members of 1 Direction.  But he played for the Cubs in postwar Chicago and a teenager named Ruth Ann Steinhagen had the hots for him.

It happens.

She was fine swooning over him from the stands at Historic Wrigley Field, but when Waitkus was traded to the Phillies after the 1948 season, she wasn't about to commute to Philadelphia to see him play.

So she decided to shoot him.

When the Phillies came to Chi to play the Cubs in June of '49, she got a room in their team hotel and sent Waitkus a note, saying that she was in the Edgewater Beach Hotel and had something to discuss with him.

As you might imagine, Eddie about broke his neck to get to her room and see what was up.  So to speak.

She leveled a rifle at him and fired, striking him in the chest.  But he refused to press charges, citing both the 2nd and 5th Amendments.  Waitkus then joined the list of World War II veterans who came home from the war unscathed, only to be shot in his own country.


Waitkus flashes the high sign to an anxious nation
Adjudged insane, Ruth Ann Steinhagen was confined to a mental institution for three years, released in time for the 1952 season.  But she stayed "in the shadows" until she passed away this past December.  So deep in the shadows was she, according to John Theodore, who wrote a book about the subject in 2002, that no one around her seemed to know why she was once so notorious.  There's nothing anywhere about her having a job, family, marriage, anything.

Waitkus returned to play six more big-league seasons,although he was never the great player that his cinematic alter ego Roy Hobbs was, died in 1972, and to his dying day, was wary about visiting strangers in hotel rooms, we may rest assured.  Ruth Ann Steinhagen's parents took her in, and they survived into the 1990s. Even the Cook County Coroner, who confirmed Ruth Ann's death, had no idea in December until a reporter dug up her background last week. 

How a person once so famous can learn to hide in a house, and how the entire community can forget why she was so infamous, are fascinating topics to think about. It would never happen today.  Between TMZ and reality shows, she would be a fixture on television nightly. Hell, she might even have her own show on FOX News.


In the old wire-service picture at right, RA is seen in an institution, apparently writing to her idol while gazing lovingly at his graven image.  This sort of  staged photography used to pass for journalism.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, July 30, 2016

Boy oh boy.  Garrison Keillor spent every Saturday since 1974 talking about the mythic town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota, only to retire and have the good people at USA Today get the whole state wrong.
I've always loved seeing yards that look like claw machines, and you could reach in and grab a prize.  Extra points for the classic donkey cart.
When I was born, there were no cameras yet, so my parents hired a painter named Eugenio Zampighi to record my joyful arrival in oils. This would account for my lifelong attachment to cats and accordion music. 
The hardest thing in the world to get rid of is an old trash can. Leave it out there with the trash, and someone will always bring it back, saying, "Good thing I got this for you before the trash men took it!"  The second hardest thing to dispose of is an old tv or monitor.  No one wants them! My advice: put it in a UPS box, seal it up and leave it on your porch.  It will be gone by dinnertime.
"Hey, everyone! Let's pile into the BelAir station wagon and go camping in the middle of nowhere! Don't forget to pack 127 jars of pickles and condiments, Pearl!"
Strolling along the boardwalk in Ocean City, MD, in a long-ago summer.  It must be a long time ago.  Everyone is wearing a shirt.
Too hot to make great art in summer?  Just leave your crayons out on the porch (next to the boxed-up Sylvania) and let the sun do it for you!
Now, here you go.  What could be better in summer?

Friday, July 29, 2016

An inside look at shoplifting

It was time to get some new plastic tubs to hold my grilling gear (fourteen spatulas and a left glove) so I went to the Home Depot to get two of these BA containers.

It was sad when I took them to the checkout, because the cashier, slightly embarrassed, had to open each one and peer inside, making sure that I hadn't hidden a drill press or six 2x4s inside.

I understand the need for this scrutiny, although I think it's funny, because anyone who knows me would know that I am the last person to try such a ripoff. First, because I am one of those who believe that karma would deal me a swift kick in the twig and berries if I tried it. Second, because my face would be a virtual lie detector...I would be blushing, sweating, my nostrils would flare, and I would stutter and stammer and yak and yammer until they had to call someone over to assist me to a seat.

So, I asked the lady how often it happens that people are found smuggling stuff inside other stuff.  "More often than you'd think," she said. 

And what do they say when you find a set of Vice-Grip Pliers and a bottle of Gorilla Glue inside a storage box they're buying? "One of two things...either they say they meant to buy that stuff and just stuck it in the box to carry it up here, or they say they have no idea how it got there and it must have been in there when they picked up the box."

I love talking to people about their jobs.  I worked with a woman who worked part-time at a tuxedo rental shop, and she reported that Mondays were days for guys to show up looking for the cell phones, cigarettes, car keys, knives, jewelry, wallets and bags of weed they had left in the pockets of the tux they wore on Saturday for Tony's wedding. 

And on Tuesdays, they came back, looking for Tony. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Get the camera!

I could easily drone on and on about how this could have been avoided.  You have to figure, if a dryer catches fire (and doesn't that sound like a Dr Seuss book?) one of two things happened.  Maybe there was an electrical fire in the motor, sure, but more likely, the lint trap had not been cleaned out since Clinton was president (the first one.)

So, next time you take a load of fresh laundry out of the Maytag, please check and empty the lint trap. That stuff is combustible!

That's not even what's on what there is of my mind today. Think for just a second about the top picture there.  

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Someone walked by the laundry room and saw it ablaze.

So?  the response to this is:
a) run and call 911
b) grab a fire extinguisher and put out the fire
c) take out the phone, select the camera app and take a picture.

I hope you chose a) or b). Unless you are an insurance adjuster.

I don't get the tendency of some to record everything, take a picture of everything, pull out the camera/phone when a Dorothy-get-outta-Kansas hurricane comes along. The first priority, to me, when a tree falls across the trunk of another car or someone is being swept away by a swollen stream or a fire is engulfing a whole development or rioting breaks out at a Justin Bieber concert or Justin Bieber breaks out, would be to deal with the situation! Grab a rope, or a hose, but just do something!  

Stormchasing  - the art of deliberately going to places where weather is bringing hell to earth - is silly enough, and dangerous, but when you add "taking pictures of Bob while he's driving into the path of the tornado," you lose me. 

First things first, when seconds count.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Space Doubt

In the days before microwave ovens made it possible for us to nuculate Hot Pockets and Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches at work for lunch, lunch choices were limited to whatever one could stuff in a brown bag.

And it was even worse for astronauts! Floating around in space in a multi-million dollar space capsule, those brave men couldn't very well pack cheese and crackers for lunch. There were very delicate electronic parts aboard, and crumbs hanging in the air in a weightless environment could very well get in the works and jam things up.

If you remember Space Food Sticks, that was Pillsbury's idea, bringing to American pockets, lunch pails and vending machines the tubular Astronaut food with the consistency of a Tootsie Roll and the taste of tree bark and sawdust. But food for grinding on in a space ship had to be crumb-free and molded into blocks or tubes. All other food was strictly not A-OK, in NASA parlance.

John Young was the pilot of the Apollo III mission in March, 1965. Later, he became the ninth man to walk on the moon (1972) but first, he became the first man to smuggle a corned beef sandwich aboard a NASA mission. As Apollo III hurtled spaceward, he reached into the pocket of his spacesuit and pulled out a corned-beef-on-rye-with-mustard and began to chomp away.

It turned out that another astronaut with a penchant for practical gaggery, Wally Schirra, had slipped off to a deli in Cocoa Beach FL, brought the sammy to Young, and sat back to enjoy the hijinx.

We can say that this was not the worst thing that ever happened in the state of Florida or in the province of American space travel. No beef or rye molecules ruined any onboard equipment, although the next guy to take that spaceship for a ride did complain that there was mustard all over the steering wheel.

And the bigshots at NASA had to do some fancy scrambling when, at the next Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to determine how much more of our tax money would be wasted spent on flying around like William Shatner, Sen. George E. Shipley blasted NASA: “My thought is that after you spend a great deal of money and time, to have one of the astronauts slip a sandwich aboard this vehicle, frankly, is just a little disgusting.”

To end the suspense, they got their money anyway and Americans landed on the moon in July 1969.  


Or so you think.







Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In a world...

I follow a Facebook page called BALTIMORE COUNTY BREAKING NEWS.  We live in Baltimore County (which, to those of you in far-off Ashtabula, Baluchistan or Kankakee, is a whole separate jurisdiction from Baltimore City) and I like reading the breaking news so I know what's going on.  These people follow the scanner action and the goin's-on of the emergency service personnel, and pass it all along.

Now, this was on their page the other day: 


A story shared with us by one of our followers.
"I don't know if you can show this but this evening my vehicle was on fire at perry Parkway and Joppa rd. I had my 3 small children with me and there was 2 males that stopped and help me. One was a guy in a white pick up truck that had a fire extinguisher that put the fire out and other was a male in a silver Suv that ran over at stayed with me and my children and even let me us his phone until the fire truck and police showed up. I don't know what I would have done if they didn't stop and help me today. I just want to thank them so much for everything they did. It is nice to know there is still some good people in this world that would stop and women that is 9 month pregnant and her children. The one male didn't want to leave us until he knew we would get home safe and left his wife waiting for him in there car while he came and helped calm my children down as well since they were upset."

You see what I'm thinking? Like they say in the movie trailers, IN A WORLD where people of all sorts are killing other people of all sorts for all sorts of reasons...IN A WORLD where natural disasters, some of them caused by manmade disasters, threaten Earth and all its inhabitants...IN A WORLD where the Zika virus is as yet uncontrolled...IN A WORLD where a guy can go into a nightclub and gun down 49 people out of the pure enormity of hatred in his heart, and two weeks later we can't even think of his name, muddled as it is among the names of the other mass slayers or shooters who break our hearts almost every day...IN A WORLD where compassion, caring and helping a stranger are almost unheard of (except as cynical parts of campaign slogans), here they are, right near where I live, just a couple of blocks from the police and fire stations. Two strangers stopping to help a third, and staying with her to the end.  

This is America, the land that I love, the country that is great, and always has been, and always will be. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lagoon Squad

One of the fifteen billion things I like about being an American is, no one can make me go to Disneyworld, Disneyland, the Disneystore, or any other Disneything anyDisneywhere. Please don't hate or pull on my Mouse Ear hat.

I'm no curmudgeon, but there's just nothing there for me.  By means of some very clever elusive action, I have so far avoided seeing so much as a glimpse of "Frozen," and nothing about the princesses or walking mice or talking ducks appeals to me.  

Then there's the fact that the one park is in Florida, and I think that it's best to avoid traveling in the direction of the equator. More south = more hot, remember. It's hot enough here all summer, and in winter, when I finally get the sweet respite of cold air being shipped down from Canada, it would be downright rude to decamp for the Sunshine State and miss out.

The crazy thing is, he has a FLA driver's license
And then there are the alligators and crocodiles who reside there. Up north, here, dinosaur descendants are not seen in the ponds or crossing the highway.

But now comes word that the mighty Disney Corporation is trying to brush some troubles away, and they won't be the first commercial venture to find out that a simple memo posted on the employee bulletin board just won't get it done.

A young lady named Shannon Sullivan, a summer intern at the Trappiest Place On Earth, spotted a memo the other day that advised people who work there ("cast" members) not to tell people who spend their time and money there ("guests") the solid facts about the presence of malevolent green members of the Crocodylian and Alligatoridae families in and around the Mouse House.

The sign said that if anyone asks about there being alligators in the water around the Magic Kingdom's Tom Sawyer Island, the correct answer is: " 'Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have them removed.' Please do not say that we have seen them before."

"I was very offended by it and I was pretty vocal about it," said Sullivan, who has a brother the same age as the little fellow who was killed by an alligator last month at the Seven Seas Lagoon.  So, she tweeted out a picture of the sign, and the next thing she knew, Disney Security was escorting her out of the park and back to the real world.

And then Disney took the sign down.  And then Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell showed up at Sullivan's house to offer her job back until the internship ends later this month.  

Disney repeated that it tells "cast members" to admit that gators and crocs can be present on the grounds, and that all people who see them waiting in line for the Misty Mountain Hop ride should notify security. 

Image result for tick-tock the crocodileIt also came out that firefighters in the area were warned repeatedly to stop feeding alligators in the lake, after repeated complaints from dispatchers who were tired of being chased across their parking lot by the real life Tick-Tock.

Places that have appeal to me as tourist destinations include the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, Graceland, and the Grand Ole Opry.  None of these places would seem to need a sign saying that the management doesn't want guests to be afraid while simply walking around the joint.

But, if you're into Disney, enjoy it!  Just keep your eyes open.  



Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Way back when

We use the term "Neanderthal" to disparage a brute, a boor, an unsophisticated knave.  "Oh, he's just a Neanderthal!" we exclaim as a guy races by us in his jacked-up pickup, throwing beer cans and caution out the window.  "Irv wouldn't stop and pick up dinner for Grace on his way home; what can you expect from a Neanderthal like him?" we say.

What do we really know of Neanderthal man?

We know his brain was bigger than ours, which has to mean something! And for another thing, he was European, and today we associate that with grace and élan.  To us, a European drives a race car, drinks the finest brandy, wears a beret, says witty things while eating tidbits of cheese and sipping champagne.  Or she's a slinky fashion model or actress walking a pet ocelot along the beach at Cannes. 

To be technical about it, these folks are known as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis,  and they paraded around from about 100,000–40,000 BC, at which time they were replaced by the Eurasian early modern humans known as Cro-Magnon man, although it is widely felt that a small contingent of Neanderthals still live in the Oakland, California area (photo left).

There are small hints here and there in the research into Neanderthals that lead one to believe that these people were maybe a couple pineapples short of a luau.  For one thing, we have uncovered their primitive cell phones, and they apparently knew nothing of taking selfies, their playlists were redundant, relying heavily on the throbbing disco sounds of the 45,000 BCs, and they could not for the life of them figure out how to add new names to their contact list, so everyone, to them, was "Ogg." 

Neanderthal skull, still waiting
to be seen in a Neanderthal HMO.
And there was this: The very name "Neanderthal" was first proposed for forerunners of us brainy Homo sapiensby the Anglo-Irish geologist William King in 1864, and it's a good thing he came up with the idea to name them after a German river valley, because two years later, one Ernst Haeckel proposed calling them Homo stupidus.

And that would be hard to live 

Sunday Rerun: Way Back When

We use the term "Neanderthal" to disparage a brute, a boor, an unsophisticated knave.  "Oh, he's just a Neanderthal!" we exclaim as a guy races by us in his jacked-up pickup, throwing beer cans and caution out the window.  "Irv wouldn't stop and pick up dinner for Grace on his way home; what can you expect from a Neanderthal like him?" we say.

What do we really know of Neanderthal man?

We know his brain was bigger than ours, which has to mean something! And for another thing, he was European, and today we associate that with grace and élan.  To us, a European drives a race car, drinks the finest brandy, wears a beret, says witty things while eating tidbits of cheese and sipping champagne.  Or she's a slinky fashion model or actress walking a pet ocelot along the beach at Cannes. 

To be technical about it, these folks are known as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis,  and they paraded around from about 100,000–40,000 BC, at which time they were replaced by the Eurasian early modern humans known as Cro-Magnon man, although it is widely felt that a small contingent of Neanderthals still live in the Oakland, California area (photo left).

There are small hints here and there in the research into Neanderthals that lead one to believe that these people were maybe a couple pineapples short of a luau.  For one thing, we have uncovered their primitive cell phones, and they apparently knew nothing of taking selfies, their playlists were redundant, relying heavily on the throbbing disco sounds of the 45,000 BCs, and they could not for the life of them figure out how to add new names to their contact list, so everyone, to them, was "Ogg." 

Neanderthal skull, still waiting
to be seen in a Neanderthal HMO.
And there was this: The very name "Neanderthal" was first proposed for forerunners of us brainy Homo sapiensby the Anglo-Irish geologist William King in 1864, and it's a good thing he came up with the idea to name them after a German river valley, because two years later, one Ernst Haeckel proposed calling them Homo stupidus.

And that would be hard to live with!

Sunday Rerun: Way Back When

We use the term "Neanderthal" to disparage a brute, a boor, an unsophisticated knave.  "Oh, he's just a Neanderthal!" we exclaim as a guy races by us in his jacked-up pickup, throwing beer cans and caution out the window.  "Irv wouldn't stop and pick up dinner for Grace on his way home; what can you expect from a Neanderthal like him?" we say.

What do we really know of Neanderthal man?

We know his brain was bigger than ours, which has to mean something! And for another thing, he was European, and today we associate that with grace and élan.  To us, a European drives a race car, drinks the finest brandy, wears a beret, says witty things while eating tidbits of cheese and sipping champagne.  Or she's a slinky fashion model or actress walking a pet ocelot along the beach at Cannes. 

To be technical about it, these folks are known as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis,  and they paraded around from about 100,000–40,000 BC, at which time they were replaced by the Eurasian early modern humans known as Cro-Magnon man, although it is widely felt that a small contingent of Neanderthals still live in the Oakland, California area (photo left).

There are small hints here and there in the research into Neanderthals that lead one to believe that these people were maybe a couple pineapples short of a luau.  For one thing, we have uncovered their primitive cell phones, and they apparently knew nothing of taking selfies, their playlists were redundant, relying heavily on the throbbing disco sounds of the 45,000 BCs, and they could not for the life of them figure out how to add new names to their contact list, so everyone, to them, was "Ogg." 

Neanderthal skull, still waiting
to be seen in a Neanderthal HMO.
And there was this: The very name "Neanderthal" was first proposed for forerunners of us brainy Homo sapiensby the Anglo-Irish geologist William King in 1864, and it's a good thing he came up with the idea to name them after a German river valley, because two years later, one Ernst Haeckel proposed calling them Homo stupidus.

And that would be hard to live with!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, July 23, 2016

It happens in Manhattan every July, when the setting sun lines up perfectly with the grid pattern of Gotham's mighty avenues.  It's like Stonehenge, except that we know where the buildings came from.
Sure, this LOOKS like a safe place to set up camp, but...
You make your stew and then you cook some rice and you make little stewmen by sticky-ing up the rice balls with wet corn starch. Food should be fun!
Speaking of which...behold the classic Baltimore Crab Fluff...a crabcake dipped in batter and deep fried in oil.  Don't even ask if it's any good.
Early morning cattin' around!
Chrysler says Lee Iacocca invented the minivan in the 1980s, but here is the 1955 GMC Universelle, a prototype smaller version of what they used to call a panel truck. It was only 30 years ahead of its time.
And of course, it's a panoramic view of the Milky Way from the skies over New Brunswick, Canada.
People often ask why I am reluctant to get aboard their boat, ship, skiff or kayak.  From here on out, I can just show them this picture.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bowieball

The city of Bowie, MD, is our fifth-largest city in population (after Baltimore, Frederick, Rockville and Gaithersburg, but ahead of Accident, Chevy Chase, Indian Head, Accident and Boring) and there used to be a horserace track there, with a lake in the middle of the track.  And one day in 1955, people who came to the track were surprised to find a cabin cruiser afloat in the lake.  And no one knows why.

In 1961, a train carrying bettors from Philadelphia went off the train tracks near the race track, killing six and injuring over 200. Survivors - some of them among the injured - were seen climbing out of the wreckage to clamber down to the racecourse to get their bets in.  And no one knows why.

Speaking of things we don't know, no one knows why the town name is pronounced "Boo-ie" (as in Baba Booey) and the name of the late great performer David Bowie was "Boh-ee" like a bow tie. 

But now the two are coming together in one magnificent night of minor league baseball and rock.  And roll.

Tonight, the Bowie Baysox (the Baltimore Orioles's AA league team) are hosting a David Bowie Tribute Event at Prince George's Stadium at 7:05 p.m.

Besides the ballgame against Erie, there will be Bowie music, contests and tributes all evening long. 

The Baysox will wear special David Bowie-themed jerseys, and after they are finished getting them all sweaty wearing them, the uniform shirts will be auctioned off, the proceeds to benefit Feeding America.  

I'm hoping that when a manager comes to the mound to relieve a struggling pitcher, the stadium will rock to "Changes," and that they'll play "Let's Dance" when some slugger slugs a homer and sashays down to home plate.

Sounds like fun, even if you don't like baseball.  Tonight, you will see at least one future big league star as the team salutes a former star whose light will always shine.



Thursday, July 21, 2016

"B" is for Bongo

How long has it been since you saw someone playing a set of bongo drums?

Just asking rhetorically, because many of us have never seen the sight of someone beating the hell out of a pair of little drums from Cuba (by way of Africa) held between the knees.

Drum historians, of which there are not too many, trace the bongos back to late 19th-century Cuba, where the influence of African music was added to the local flavors by recent immigrants from Central Africa.  The little drums became a part of various Cuban musical forms such as nengón, changüí, and son

By the 20th century, Havana became a tourist destination and Americans who had visited the Cuban capital brought the music home with them.  Sometimes, travelers even brought souvenir bongos home with them, handing them to the kids when they got home ("Lookit! I broughtja somethin'!") just before the kids went up to their room and mastered the hand drum technique in a matter of days, if not weeks.  



James Dean, man.
And it became the instrument of choice for guys like James Dean and Marlon Brando to bring to parties in the 1950s to sit around and brood over. Like the bagpipes, it takes no musical training to play them as amateurs.

Marlon Brando, man.
I suppose the heyday of the bongos came in the 1950s, when it became illegal to have a beatnik hootenanny (a gathering of Bohemians where coffee flowed and authentic folk songs about horses named Stewball were sung by bearded young men, and when they were finished, everyone snapped their fingers instead of applauding) without someone whaling away on a set.  There was a hit record called "Bongo Rock" by Preston Epps, but his efforts at a followup hit floundered, with tunes such as "Bongo in the Congo", "Bongo Rocket", "Bootlace Bongo", "Bongo Boogie", "Flamenco Bongo", "Mr. Bongo", and "Bongo Shuffle" all being soundly rejected by an increasingly discerning audience.

A group called The Incredible Bongo Band did a new version of "Bongo Rock" in 1973, and I facetiously mentioned the other day to a good friend that it was the recessional music at our wedding that winter.  No, it was not, but one main reason why Peggy still puts up with me, almost 43 years later, is that I never owned or played a pair of bongos in our home.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Read a book instead!

I like food and I like buying food and so I go to the supermarket a couple of times per week.  I always get a laugh out of the Enquirer and the other trashy tabloids that sit by the checkout counter like ants at a picnic.  

The headlines on these fishwraps tend to be of three sorts:



  • Some actor or actress is caught in either a "dope den" or a "love nest" with a person who is not their spouse
  • Some star you haven't seen since Carter was president is now in his or her "brave final days," and there is a picture of that person in which they bear a great resemblance to The Crypt Keeper, or Don Imus
  • "Jennifer Aniston: Pregnant at last!"
The fascination that America has with Jennifer Aniston is hard to figure out.  She played Rachel Green on "Friends," which I watched about 4 times before I couldn't take David Schwimmer anymore. But plenty of people watched that show the whole time it was on, and continue to watch it in reruns when they could just as easily be watching something funny.

And people were thrilled when she married Brad Pitt, and broken-hearted when they broke up.  Why the marriage of two actors matters to some people is something I can't explain.  

I have seen Jennifer in a few movies..."We're The Millers" and "Horrible Bosses" (and "Horrible Bosses II") and she is a good actor in light comedies like that, and let's face it, I'm not looking for her to play Desdemona in "Othello," or to play the board game Othello with someone named Desdemona.  Light comedy suits me fine.  I can enjoy her as a crazed dentist and move along, never once stopping to think about whether or not she is having a baby, wants to have a baby, can't have a baby, whatever.  Why would I care about that?

She has not had too much to say about all this, but Ms Aniston did write a piece for the Huffington Post the other day in which she says, "For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I'm fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of 'journalism,' the 'First Amendment' and 'celebrity news.'

It's worth your time to read, even if doesn't make you think twice about spending your hard-earned money (or your hard-earned time) on these dumb papers.  Read these words instead, and think about what she is trying to get us all to understand:

"We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies...We don't need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own 'happily ever after' for ourselves."

I'd be happy ever after if there were less public interest in matters like the private lives of actors.  But that's just me...


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oh really? No. O'Reilly.

Image result for bill oreilly
Bill measures up
Bill O'Reilly, FOX news bloviator, was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning the other Sunday morning, and he made the interesting point that he was born without the gene that makes some people need to be liked.  O'Reilly says he has no need to have people like him, which, in his case, is a very good attribute.  Pomposity and arrogance serve him well, and who would want to compete with him for how much he likes himself?  No one could top him at that.

Anyway, let him be.  His statement got me to thinking about the need to be liked.  I believe that a person of healthy mind (and I do know some!) has a certain need for this.  The goal should be to avoid letting the need for acceptance and praise occupy too much space in our noggins.  I mean, I need all the room I can find up there for phone numbers, dates of upcoming doctor visits, and directions for restoring audio to the TV in the living room.


“Few and mean as my gifts may be, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or the assurance of my fellows any secondary testimony.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So I found online a list of ten reasons why we shouldn't care what others think of us, and I really really truly hope that everyone will like it and embrace the ten reasons in the very core of our souls:


1. It’s Not Their Life, So It’s None Of Their Business

Unless they're going to come fix your tire or tutor you in English, they haven't got a nickel in it, so do what you gotta do.

2. They Don’t Know What’s Best For You

Making decisions about your life requires having all the information.  Someone might decide to make you a pistachio/tapioca cake, not knowing of your rare but deadly pistachio and tapioca allergies.

3. What’s Right For Someone Else May Be Completely Wrong For You
Same deal, but don't let that pistachio/tapioca dessert go to waste. Send it to me at once, please, so it can go to waist.

4. It Will Keep You From Your Dreams
You're the only one who knows about your lifelong desire to be an extra in a Tom Cruise movie crowd scene, and you're also the only one who should.

5. You’re The One Stuck With The End Result

"Success has many parents," said a wise man, "but failure is an orphan." And do you know who that wise man was?  Or who his parents were?  Neither do I.

6. People’s Thoughts Change On A Regular Basis

Look back at your high school yearbook to see that stonewashed jeans and big big hair, once thought to be the best way to look, are no longer cool except for Retro Night at the pool.

7. Life Is Simply Too Short
I'm no psychiatrist, but this is one item on the list I would question.  I'm not sure that it's good to remind a worried person that all their worries might come to an end in the next few hours.

8. You Reap What You Sow
So don't fear the reaper.

9. Others Don’t Care As Much As You Think
While you fret about what Jimmy and Kenny and Mabel and Doris are thinking about you, it turns out, they aren't.

10. The Hard Truth: It’s Impossible To Please Everybody
The great Rick Nelson taught us that "you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."  I see no reason to dispute this.

Now get on out there and like yourself as much as I like you!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Phi Beta Whatsis

I might have to quit watching the morning news and just stick with reruns of "That 70s Show."

Beside the daily cavalcade of floods, fires and hyperloquacious politicians, I keep seeing examples of people who are supposed to be at the top of their professions, by dint of their superior brainpower, demonstrating that they really aren't much smarter than Baba Booey.

The people who run cruise ships. You would assume they are far above the norm, but a little 8-year-old boy died on July 11 after falling into a pool, found unconscious in that swimming pool aboard the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, not long after the ship took off.

The Anthem of the Seas has 1,500 employees aboard, none of whom are lifeguards.

The people who thought it would be a good idea to come up with a car that drives itself. They were the big shots in the Science Club in high school, you may be certain, but in a country where 92 Americans die EVERY DAY in traffic accidents (33,580 meet the reaper on the highway per average year) in vehicles where, supposedly, sane sober people are driving and controlling the cars, trucks and I don't know what-all else, how can it be a good idea to have cars running around that don't need driver participation? (They call them "autonomous" cars.) A former Navy seal was driving a Tesla car on autopilot in Florida. A semi turned left in front of him, but the car failed to notice this event because the sun was shining and the truck was white. Uh huh.



I humbly suggest that a nation that has secretaries of defense and homeland security and housing and agriculture and so many chiefs and underassistant deputy HMFICs could use a person appointed to be secretary of good sense. This person could just go around and say, "If you have an accessible pool, you need a lifeguard on duty, or put up a fence!" and "Stop telling people they don't need to pay any attention while their cars are in motion! If you're going to drive, then drive, doggone it!"
 And of course, wear your seat belt.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Bad Office Manners

Never ones to be outdone, the good folks at the Comcast website have published a list of the Top Ten obnoxious things that people do at work.  I looked it over, but I can't say they hit everything.  I mean, for some people, the obnoxiety starts before they even GET to work, the way they drive and, once there, take up two places or so.  The other day, we got an email advising that someone had parked out front in a B.A. Ford Excursion, taking up FOUR spots at once.  That's got to be some sort of record, but where would you look it up?

I haven't even taken a gander at the Comcast list of offensive things to do at work.  I thought of my own - and I must point out that this list is not reflective of where I work now!  Those people are all angels, and put up with my singing and bad jokes. 

But let's go with:
I like to use a picture every day. Say hi to Phil Silvers!
  1. wearing stanky cologne or perfume or aftershave, or having other forms of bodystank.  Will cause people to use the fisheye.
  2. playing someone's favorite music loudly on a scratchy cheap broken clock radio that they didn't want in their bedroom any longer, it's such a brokedown relic, but it's good enough to play Cyndi Lauper's execrable "Time After Time" every day around 10.
  3. having an office that looks like the Rain Forest down at the Aquarium, with vines and trailing arbutus hanging in one's face when one stops by to pick up the Bramblebury account folder.  Notice: this sort of foliage is often accompanied by macrame.  Beware.
  4. Setting up what looks like the Salad Bar area from a Golden Corral buffet on the work area.  
  5. Similarly, setting up what looks (and smells like) the coffee section at a WaWa.  Mr Coffee, Keurig, French Press, Drip-O-Lator: we've seen all the coffee setups in offices, with the little note about remembering to feed the kitty, and the IOU's in the coffee mug where dollars ought to be.
  6. The people who have something to sell on behalf of their children, fraternal group or Chowder And Marching Society every week.  Every so often, sure, and everyone likes a chance to purchase pizzas and candles and popcorn, especially when it benefits a good cause.  But...every week?? For young Brattleboro's Free Form Ballet group?  How much candy can we eat?
  7. Smokers who congregate right by the door so they can exhale something KOOL right in your face as you enter the building.  I am sorry for smokers, a group that once numbered me among them, but I am willing to betcha that most smokers would still go out and puff up if they were required to put on some sort of clown costume and ride around the parking lot on a unicycle while getting their nicotine fix.
  8. People whose cell phones are set on maximum volume with the weirdest ringtones you ever heard...and will hear...all day.  Enchanting as the lilting love ballad "Beaten, Gagged, Bound and Chained," by Sadie O' Masochist might be to you, others  might find it, well, repugnant.
  9. People who "speak' to service personnel by using only hand gestures (pointing the index finger at them, and then pointing that finger at a spill or pile or trash) or third-person irregular ("Custodial! Custodial! Overflowing bidet in executive men's room!")
  10. Insensitive, inappropriate "jokes" or comments about someone else's race, color, creed, ethnic background, physical condition, area of domicile, or sexual preference tell us a lot about the boors who spout this bilge.
That's your Top Ten, and be sure to tune in next week to see if anything changes.  "Using swear words, cheap vulgar terms or taking the Lord's name in vain" is moving up fast!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, July 16, 2016

 The Clown Motel, with its free internet and welcoming policy for truckers and pets, is in Tonopah, Nevada. I don't care how far it is to the next town and the next motel, and I don't care if this place is full of truckers and yapping chihuahuas.  It's the clown format that will send me down the road.
These are the engines of the Titanic, showing the effects of deep-water immersion for over a century.
Landscapers all over the world, here is your competition!
I believe this is a ring for tying up a horse or some livestock. I like the way it looks, old and rusty but still workable.
With the worst heat of summer coming on, this is the new air conditioning system I am having installed at the house. (It's actually the Russian Soyuz MS spaceship, but I can dream.)
I've always liked kale, but a lot of people don't, possibly because the only way they've had it is boiled for three or four days until it's as crisp as last week's salad.  Try it sauteed in a little olive oil, with a little shredded parmesan cheese, bacon crumbles and croutons.
I've been puzzling over this for several nights, and I still don't get it. Model railroad tracks in a guitar case.  If it makes sense to you, please let me know!
Hi, I'm Red Panda, and it's just too hot to be anything but a bump on this log!