Monday, October 31, 2016

Tonight's the night!

Not that I'm bragging, because my dietary sins are many and varied. But at least they're not candy-coated, because I don't like much in the way of candy, and especially not chocolate.  I'm just meh about it, and I'd rather load up on beer and potatoes than Kit-Kats and Snickers.

And whoever it was who promised me a 20-lb weight loss just by giving up soda, I gave it up in 2005 and I'm still "weighting" ha ha.

But tonight is Halloween, which is the World Series, Super Bowl and Day That A New Madea Movie Comes Out all rolled into one (and dipped in caramel).  And don't be that one house in every neighborhood that hands out toothpaste and dental floss in the name of better oral hygiene for the kids. You know that will earn you nothing in the way of popularity points among the eddying mob of kids that pass by twice a day.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown of the most popular Halloween candy. A site called Influenster (sounds like something you need to be in bed for!) asked 40,000 people from sea to shining sea, and I dunno.  I mean, candy corn came out on top, and really?  Outside of making a wonderful tri-color spackle for holes in the wall, what good is candy corn?

Stand by.  I'm being told that people actually eat candy corn. It was #1 in Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina. And all the while, corn right out of the Green Giant can is tastier.

And one more candy thing. If you want to be sure whether someone is from Baltimore or not, just hand them one of these Peanut Butter Cups. If they're from Bmore, they will yelp, "Oh Boy! Reesie's!" If they call it Reese's, they are not. Guaranteed.

Here's the list...and Happy Halloween! (PS - look how fancy they get in Arizona!)

Alabama – AirHeads
Alaska – Snickers
Arizona – Toblerone
Arkansas – Skittles
California – Lifesavers
Colorado – Milky Way
Connecticut – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Delaware – 3 Musketeers
Florida – Nestlé Crunch Bar
Georgia – Pixy Stix
Hawaii – 100 Grand Bar
Idaho – Butterfinger
Illinois – Snickers
Indiana – Reese’s Pieces
Iowa – Twix
Kansas – Twizzlers
Kentucky – Whoppers
Louisiana – Swedish Fish
Maine – Starburst
Maryland – Almond Joy
Massachusetts – Starburst
Michigan – M&M’s
Minnesota – 100 Grand Bar
Mississippi – Hershey’s Kisses
Missouri – Hershey’s Kisses
Montana – Kit Kat Bar
Nebraska – Skittles
Nevada – Jolly Ranchers
New Hampshire – Tootsie Rolls
New Jersey – Sour Patch Kids
New Mexico – 3 Musketeers
New York – Sweet Tarts
North Carolina – Butterfinger
North Dakota – Sour Patch Kids
Ohio – Milky Way
Oklahoma – M&M’s
Oregon – Candy corn
Pennsylvania – Swedish Fish
Rhode Island – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
South Carolina – Candy corn
South Dakota – Laffy Taffy
Tennessee – Candy corn
Texas – Candy corn
Utah – Nerds
Vermont – Almond Joy
Virginia – Reese’s Pieces
Washington – AirHeads
West Virginia – Oreos
Wisconsin – Laffy Taffy
Wyoming – Candy corn
District of Columbia – Twix

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Rerun: Thank you, Ted Turner

Thank you for so much. For CNN. For Headline News. For Superstation TBS, which had all the cool reruns. For TNT and all the rest...and for Turner Classic Movies, which shows great old flicks 24 - 7 for FREE!

Take this picture that Peggy and I watched the other night. "The Two Mrs Carrolls,"  starring Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck and Alexis Smith. And of course, for extra British flavor, there was a guy named Nigel Bruce in the cast, along with Leyland Hodgson and Anita Sharp-Bolster.

And so do we all sometimes.

I won't give away the plot, but it had everything you want in a movie from 1947 set in England:

  • hammy acting
  • dramatic staccato music (da-da-da-DAAAAAAAAAAAA!)
  • people expressing their fear or discontent by grabbing their head in their hands
  • rainy nights in England, with people coming into a house dripping wet and shaking off the rain
  • people driving on the wrong side of the road
  • props that just happen to be there just when needed...
  • black and white film
  • a 10-year-old child who speaks as if she were 53 or something ("Oh you mustn't do that!," "Father, do tell me it's all true!")
  • an alcoholic doctor who guzzles everyone's whiskey and then treats patients a minute later
  • old-time phones that you didn't dial, but, rather, told the operator the number you want ("Fare-thee-well 459, please!")
  • I think Bogart smoked while he ate. There is not a scene in which he isn't either smoking...or doing something else hazardous....
  • A cranky maid who, apparently, worked 24 hours a day seven days a, cleaning, answering the door. She never went home or anything.
  • Thinly-veiled threats of intense bodily harm hissed from person to person, while these persons were all dressed to the nines!
  • and a movie poster that had the stars' first names in regular size print and their last name all gigantic. You could do this at your office. Just order a name plaque for your door that says jimbo JONES and you can feel like a star!
I'm not going to tell you any more about this picture because you might want to watch it. Great fun. You might even want to wear a tuxedo or a formal gown, to fit in.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, October 29, 2016

From an old LIFE Magazine, this picture of the Colts' Steve Myrha kicking off in a game at the old, beloved Baltimore Memorial Stadium. What I paid for a ticket to a game there ($6) wouldn't get you a hotdog at the new football palace downtown.
Not too far from us is this deli, called Ravage Deli, because you are supposed to get your sandwich there and just crazy go nuts eating it.  Their cheesesteak was voted Baltimore's Best, and I need to investigate it fully.  I'll report here later.
That marvelous moment when fall meets winter in Vermont.
I don't know where this happened, but someone crashed their Toyota Camry into a tree and left it there for a while, so local art lovers showed up with gold spray paint and turned a wreck into a show piece.
I've known a lot of people who worked as X-ray technicians, and all of them could see right through all of us.
The people at Hibbing High School in Minnesota are justly proud of their 1959 graduate Robt. Zimmerman, who, apparently, went off like a rolling stone and wrote some stuff and earned the Nobel Prize.  How does it feel?
These are people of the Baggio ethnic group. They live in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Although some of them have moved to the land, a significant portion of their population still lives on the water full time, coming ashore only to sell the fish and lobsters they catch (that's their primary source of income), get potable water, and bury relatives.  They have no internet or television, but they do have all the seafood they want to eat and they don't know nothin' from nothin' about elections, turmoil, and worldwide crises.  I hear you nodding.
Softly, as we leave each other...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Everyone's a judge

Mike Nudelman and Shana Lebowitz wrote an interesting article in the Business Insider website called "9 small things you do that people use to judge your personality."

So, since I didn't already have enough to worry over, I read it. And now I am sizing myself up in 9 new ways. Let's look over the list! By the way, Nudelman and Lebowitz got a lot of research from Quora, an interesting site to pose and answer questions.  

The list:

1. Your handshake.

Everyone knows a person with a weak "wet fish" handshake tends to be wimpish and feeble.  As soon as you clasp their paw, you can't wait to get it back so you can apologize to your own.  

But the bruiser who habitually crushes walnuts in his hand and then shakes yours is not so great either.  With him, you want to get your hand back ASAP so you can wrap an icepack around it.

Good advice is to go for a handshake right in the middle of those two.  Best advice is to forgo the shake and do the fist bump.

2. Your punctuality.

When I was a supervisor, I used to shake my melon in surprise at how many people would show up late - not just for work, but for the job interview in the first place! Many of us seem to take a very casual approach to showing up on time. Most people who are in charge of things don't. If you catch my drift...

3. Your handwriting.

My father would leave me notes listing chores, etc, and the notes themselves should be in the Calligraphy Museum, so precise were the letters.  My mother won handwriting awards for the Palmer Method all through high school.  My handwriting looks like when you're trying out a new cheap ballpoint pen. I know I lose points on this score.  

4. Your favorite color.

Mine is brown, plain brown, like the color of a suede jacket, or a brownie (so THAT'S why them call them that!) and while that marks me (so THAT'S why they call me that!) as hopelessly dull and square, at least I don't have to explain liking "wenge," "celedon," or "sarcoline."  Runner-up for me is fuchsia, because it's just one typo away from being hilarious.

5. Your taste in music.

Hank Snow (1914- 1999)
Again, I'm in trouble here.  It would be better if I could say that my favorite tune was "Pachelbel's Canon in D" or that other song with the cannons. But if you're sizing me up and I tell you my favorite songs include "90 Miles an Hour (Down a Dead-end Street") by Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch Boys and "Meet Mister Callaghan" by Les Paul and Mary Ford, you might walk away shaking your head, as have thousands before you.

Would liking "They All Laughed" by Ozzie Nelson and His Orchestra help any?

6. Your eye contact.

Do you look people in the eye when you speak to them? People think you are weak-willed and unlikely to follow through on assignments in a dependable manner if your gaze wanders to their shoulders or down the street. And for heaven's sake, don't ever get caught being told, "My EYES are UP HERE!"

7. Your choice of pet.

Where you come down on this issue says a lot. Some love dogs and dislike cats, or vice versa. Some like fish, hermit crabs, parakeets, or ferrets. Safest way to have people really like you is to have two of everything and change your name to Noah.

8. Whether you bite your nails.

Let's consider a person's overall grooming and appearance.  He or she can be well-dressed, well-coiffed, well-shod and well, nice to look at, but if you see their fingernails all chewed like the ends of #2B pencils during a math test, it takes away points.  

9. How you ask a question.

I was in one of those sensitivity training classes many years ago when the "facilitator" (that's the term they use to mean "person who makes you feel inadequate until it's time to go home, and then asks how to find their way back to the parking garage") said that any time one asks a question that starts with the word "Why," it "automatically puts the other person on the defensive and is a sure-fire way to get them to stop sharing."

I raised my hand and said, "Why?"

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The love is flagging

The closest big town to Slatington, Pennsylvania, is Wilkes-Barre. Kunkletown, Jim Thorpe (a town named for the great Olympic hero) and Danielsville are also close by.

Jim Thorpe began his athletic career at the Carlisle Industrial Indian School in Carlisle, PA, but when he died in the early 1950s, his wife Patricia was angry that officials in his native Oklahoma would not erect a memorial for she swung a deal with the towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk in PA.  They built a gravesite for Thorpe and merged the towns to become Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, in hopes of creating a tourist mecca that never developed.

So, I don't know what's happening in Kunkletown,  Danielsville, Wilkes-Barre or even Jim Thorpe, for that matter. But I do know that the volunteer fire chief of Slatington was fired recently for insubordination.

If you've never seen the political machinations of small towns and volunteer fire companies, you'd be amazed, and I don't know why HBO doesn't have a series based on it.  They could call it "Sirens," and Randolph Mantooth could play the fire chief, and Kirstie Alley, the mayor.

The story is that a volunteer fire lieutenant from nearby Fountain Hill passed away, and that (former) fire chief Keith Weaver asked permission from the Slatington Town Council to take the ladder truck to Fountain Hill for the funeral, at the request of that town's fire department,  This is standard at fire department funerals; two ladder trucks will be used to fly an American flag.

But what's also standard in American life is following orders and directions from superiors.  The town council told Weaver to take his crews to the funeral if he wished, but denied permission to let him take the ladder truck.

And you already guessed what he did.

The council voted 6-1 to terminate Weaver, who served in the volunteer position for 13 years. The termination was "for insubordination for Weaver taking the ladder truck out of town when he was not supposed to.  It’s about taking a firetruck out of town. You just don’t do that stuff," Councilman Jon Rinker said. "I told him you can take your men and go."  Since the primary function of the Slatington Fire Department is to provide fire protection to Slatington, you can see why, in case of a fire, having their only ladder truck 25 miles away would be a problem.

Councilman Bryon Reed, the only council member to oppose the termination, said, "No matter what, he did volunteer for many years. He donated a lot of his time to the borough and he was always there."

A member of the fire department named Jeffrey Hausman said that Weaver had "done a lot. He has always been here. My theory is it’s not fair, but the council did what they had to do. You’ve got to follow orders," Hausman said.

The trucks displaying the flag at the funeral
In order to understand this completely, one would have to know all the history and the behind-the-curtains contrivances among the councilpeople and the chief. So all I can say is, yes, the chief was right to want to take the truck to help honor the fallen comrade, but since charity begins at home, that's where the truck should have stayed.

Whether or not it's right to fire Chief Weaver for it is a whole 'nother matter.  But in Slatington, PA, that's how things go.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bottom of the Barrel

I don't see why we have to keep going through the same stuff all the time. 

This is America, land of the free, but that freedom does not extend to a point at which we get to tell each other how (and whom) to worship.  

If you disagree with that sentence, you might as well stop reading this now and try an animal camera site instead, because I have trouble coping with people who have decided that their religion and method of experiencing it is the only way for everyone to live.

And here is what got me all cheesed off today.  Down in South Carolina, a Cracker Barrel waitress served an apparently married couple in their 50s their supper and then found, in place of a tip, a note that told her she should be home and not working! 

And of course, because she is out working, her husband comes home from work and then goes out visiting Cheat Street because she's not home, according to Mr and Mrs Selfrighteous. 

They gobbled their chow and then left the dining area, darting back in to drop off a napkin with the mean note (poorly) written on it. Here is the text, and I won't trouble you with adding a "sic" to every spelling or grammar error.  For once, that's not the point!

"Thank you for your excelent service today - Your a good waitress. Here's your tip: The womans place is in the home. You're place is in the home. It even says so in the Bible. You may think that your contributing to your household by coming into work, but your not. While your in here 'working' this is the reason your husband must see another women on his way home from a long day at his work. Because you should be takeing care of the household duties. You may think what you are doing 'working' is right, it is really essentially a disgrace to his manhood and to the American family. So instead of coming to your 'job' and looking for hand out's to feed your family, hows about going home and cleaning your house and cooking a hot meal for your husband and children, the way you're husband and God intended, and help make America great again. Praying for families and our nation."

I added the emphasis to "make America great again" to show what sort of people believe this country is not currently great. 

In an ironic twist, the couple ends the note "Love" and their last name.  

Not that it's any of their business, but it turns out the server is not married to anyone, but is working to earn money toward her higher education, and has a supportive boyfriend.  

She told the local news down in SC that the couple were friendly and polite during dinner, and that this deplorable (!) note was all the more surprising, given their earlier kindness.

This whole stupid story brings to mind several things about people.  The comments from the news station site contain statements from Cracker Barrel habitués who said that many times, they have tied on the feedbag at the Barrel on a Sunday and heard other diners telling their servers that it's sinful for them to be working there on Sunday!

While they're eating there on Sunday.

How very kind.
And of course, there is a need some feel to decide that their religion is the only worthwhile faith. And the tendency of some to make a religion of being penurious and miserly. It's almost a sport for some to sit and figure ways to cheat servers out of the money they deserve for plopping down plates of Uncle Nutsy's Pancake Breakfast and a side of grits before them and then watching them mop their maws with a paper napkin.

So what?  So tip your server, live your faith, and don't use one to stint the other.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The times they really are a-changing

We heard not long ago that Bobby Vee (born Robert Velline, 1943) was battling Alzheimer's Disease, and the end came yesterday for the man who took up the hiccup-y sound of Buddy Holly and brought it to the top 40 charts many times in the early 60s. He was, indeed, a teen idol, with hits such as "Devil or Angel", "Rubber Ball", "Take Good Care of My Baby", "Please Don't Ask About Barbara", "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Come Back When You Grow Up" between 1960 and 1966.

But how odd that his passing came just a couple of weeks after Bob Dylan (born Robert Zimmerman, 1941) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Here's the connection. One of Dylan's first music jobs was playing the piano (under the nom de keys "Elston Gunnn") (with three Ns) in The Shadows, Vee's backup band.

Vee was born in Fargo and it was there that he decided to add a pianist to his group. Along came Dylan, who was from Hibbing, Minnesota, and said that he had just finished a job backing Conway Twitty on the road, but failed to point out that he could only play piano in the key of C. Even at $15 a night, it didn't work out, and Dylan put music aside to enroll at the University of Minnesota. Later, he moved to New York and you know the rest of that story (although you never heard it from Paul Harvey.)

Fast forward a couple of years, and Vee finds himself on tour, a rather important pop star playing New York City. He passes by a record shop in Greenwich Village and sees a familiar face on an album cover:
"I was walking down the street. There was a record store there, and there was an album in the front window. And it said, ‘Bob Dylan.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Looks a lot like Elston Gunnn,'" Vee recalled.
And they didn't see each other again for years. In his autobiography "Chronicles," Dylan indicated that he wished Vee had stuck with the rockabilly sound he started out with.

"He’d become a crowd pleaser in the pop world. As for myself, I had nothing against pop songs, but the definition of pop was changing."

However great the differences between the singer of "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Like A Rolling Stone," Dylan and Vee respected each other's music.  

"I wouldn’t see Bobby Vee again for another thirty years, and though things would be a lot different, I’d always thought of his as a brother,” Dylan wrote in his "Chronicles." "Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room."

Vee told a Dylan website (there are dozens!) that even though Dylan's music was so wildly different from his, he liked it a lot too.  
"I probably plugged into him on the second or third album, and the stuff was really unusual. It was so far removed from what I was doing. Not long after that, I started listening to his stuff and really became a big fan," Vee said.

So, how nice it was in 2013, two years after Vee had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, he was at a Dylan concert in St. Paul MN - and Dylan did a version of Vee's first hit, "Suzie Baby."

And Dylan said that of all the people with whom he had ever performed, Vee was "the most meaningful person." And Bob led the audience in applauding as the legendary Bobby entered his final sad twilight. That must have felt good all around.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Where there's never a boast or brag

I'm here to tell you something about men.  None of this will come as a surprise at all to any woman, who all know everything about men right off. Nothing can fool a woman.

But for those who don't know's a rule of thumb.  The more a guy talks about how great he is/was about something, the less great he really was. 

You find these guys everywhere...and their stories are nowhere. They will change the topic of conversation around to how they once bagged a bull moose with a cap pistol and six feet of he scored the winning touchdown on Homecoming against crosstown rival Spiro Agnew High School with five would-be tacklers hanging on for dear life as he carried the ball into the they rescued that carload of teachers and orphans that plunged into the Great Suwahaheanowmee they can bench-press someone their own weight and the bench that person is sitting the fish just give up and jump into their boat as soon as they drop in their line...and how many women they have been with in a lifetime of carnal conquests...

Image result for 1989 chevrolet celebrity beat upA great place to spot these dudes is at a high school reunion, where the urge to show off their accomplishments is paramount. Time after time, I've seen guys boasting about their fabulous lives at a reunion, only to leave later in a 1989 Chevrolet Caprice <<< beater that needed a hotshot to get off the lot.

Women know that the men who actually accomplish things are too busy accomplishing things to stand around talking about accomplishing things.

And at the same time, the reunion talk will turn to someone who didn't show up for the reunion.  Where is "so and so" now? Guess he couldn't make the reunion because he's too busy running the news division of a TV network or being an emergency room trauma surgeon or...even better...he's out doing something good for needy members of his community with his devoted family.

That sort of thing is the best success of all, but when did you ever hear someone boast about it?  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Rerun: 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.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Saturday Picture Show, October 22, 2016

As we get ready to say goodbye to baseball again until next Spring, take a look at a catcher's mask worn by Moe Berg, who caught for a few teams in the 1920s and 30s. Moe is better known for speaking a dozen languages, reading at least ten newspapers per day and making films during a baseball tour of Japan in 1934...films which came in handy in his second career as a United States spy in World War II. Hollywood is making a movie of his life, to be released next year, starring Paul Rudd, who looks like Moe Berg like I look like Haile Selassie, but whaddya gonna do?
You look at this picture and you think, there's a man named Enos Slaughter, and his nickname was "Country," because he hailed from Roxboro, NC, before playing in the majors from 1938 - 1959.  But it was something that happened to him before he got to the big leagues that is the best part of the story to impart to young people of 2016. Ol' Enos was playing in Columbus GA and dogged it on his way back to the dugout one time...he walked in instead of running. His manager said, "Son, if you're tired, we'll get you some help out there."  And Enos Slaughter never operated at a pace less than full-tilt hustle on a baseball field again. 
When Hurricane Matthew was finished his dirty work on and around Fernandina Beach, FL, he left behind a veritable treasure trove of sea shells!
This is the house once belonging to Vera Coking in Atlantic City, NJ. "Penthouse" publishing smutking Bob Guccione wanted to build a huge casino on her property and on either side of it, and began construction, figuring that Mrs Coking would accept the $1,000,000 he offered. She wouldn't budge, but Guccione ran out of money and abandoned the project anyway. Several years later, penthouse building king Donald J. Trump tried to force the aging widow of her house with an eminent domain lawsuit, like the one that we used to chase Native Americans off their property. She won. There is justice.
Speaking of justice...if you want to go to Indonesia, have fun! Send me a postcard.  Just don't steal anything.  This is how foreign thieves are punished there...
We're saluting American poetic genius Bob Dylan, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year. His sixth album came out in 1965 and was entitled "Highway 61 Revisited."  These tracks parallel Hwy 61 in Bob's native Minnesota.
Busch Gardens in Pasadena CA closed in 1979. There were lots of birds who lived there in huge aviaries, and the vast majority of them winged it to zoos and other sanctuaries.  But the Busch people did a curious thing.  They set some of the parrots free. And ever since, for one day a year, those parrots and their families pause during migration to return to roost in Echo Park near the site of the old Gardens.  
This is a handy item to keep on the shelf just in case your water stops running.  It also makes a handy dessert if frozen.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Take your choice

We'll be married 43 years this December, the Mrs and I, and I like to say that it's really a blind date that has never ended.  I mean, do you say that the conversation you started the other day is really over, when you keep talking to the person?  Same here.  Our conversation, the one that began when we were introduced by friends, is ongoing, and I can honestly tell you that not once in all the years since have we either sat and stared at each other, wondering what in hell to say next.  There is always SOMEthing.

If you recall the Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Busted," when the mistaken arrest of Springfield's favorite TV clown (that word!) led to sidekick Bob getting to do the afternoon show, you remember how Bob tried to take a higher tone on things.  

"Well, perhaps we can shed some light on your problem in a new segment exploring pre-adolescent turmoil. I call it, 'Choices'."

Peggy and I will wile away endless hours driving to distant destinations or while waiting to be seen in clinics or raking leaves or trying to avoid deep sleep when a soccer game is on TV by doing something you might call "Choices" if you feel like being corny.  

It goes like this:

  • "Whom would have as a dinner guest: Oprah or Howard Stern?" (or two disparate friends or acquaintances who shan't be named here).  
  • and then the other person, having just answered "Howard, of course!" asks "Would you eat fried liver with a side of kidneys if you got to have all you wanted of any dessert, or would you have your favorite entrée but you have to eat a snack-size baggie of black licorice and candy corn for dessert?"
  • You can go back and forth on the gross desserts and undesirable dinner guests (sorry, Kanye!) all night, or you can come up with new Choices...
  • Name two people.  With which of them would you rather drive to Los Angeles? And could you sleep in the car while that person drove, without worrying that they'd drive you into a ditch just east of Omaha?
  • Early Beatles or later Beatles?  Early Stones or later? Bing Crosby or Perry Como? Listen to Dave Matthews or jump off Trump Tower?
  • Clean out the garage or watch Jerry Springer?
  • Of course, any question - even "Would you rather watch bowling, tennis or soccer for fifteen hours straight?  - is better than The Worst Question Ever Uttered In A Relationship, which is, as you know....."Do you think we should completely redecorate the entire house, or just move?"

Thursday, October 20, 2016

This isn't what they mean by "Locks Of Love"

It was popular in Paris, so let's try it here, n'est-ce-pas?

Of course, a section of a bridge fence in Paris buckled because of it.

"It" is the odd practice of attaching a padlock to a bridge to proclaim the lasting love between two people. Now, I'm not one to predict whose love will last and whose will come unlocked, but really. Many a relationship ends before a good Master lock will rust and fall off.

As I say, this is popular in Paris and New York, but I haven't heard about it happening here in Baltimore, where we use our locks to keep our bikes, sheds, and grills secure instead.  

Does a young couple take a moonlight stroll down to the bridge, gaze into each other's limpid orbs, and say, "Darling...I feel so desperately in love with you...and I feel that you feel the let's go to Locks Locks Locks, buy a lock, and attach it to the closest bridge!"

Or, maybe it happens a lot in June, when everyone brings home their gym locker lock when school is out.

"(Each lock) costs the city real money in terms of sending our personnel out there to remove them," New York City Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told a newspaper there. "It’s a lot of extra work."

Sending someone to the bridge with a pair of bolt cutters does tend to add up, cost-wise.  Last year, it added up to $116,000.

So the city will now be slapping a $100 fine on violators of the new ban forbidding slapping a padlock on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pay it, or get...locked up.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's got to get better!

His defense was that he is a "loud New Yorker," and that's not going too well for other people right now either, is it?  

Image result for sheriff fitzgerald
Out on his asterisk
We're speaking of Howard County (Maryland) Sheriff James F. Fitzgerald, who resigned under pressure last week.  He was said to have used bigoted language and harassed employees with all sorts of slurs, and county officials said that those employees who didn't support his re-election paid the price of his retaliation with revamped work schedules and assignments.   

"I think it's a good thing for the citizens of Howard County," said County Executive Allan Kittleman. "I want to commend everyone in the community for standing up when they learned about the sheriff's actions and his comments. I think it was because of our total community coming together ... that led to this day."

The charges against Fitzgerald came in a 48-page report put out by the county's Office of Human Rights. It said that he called African-Americans the "n" word, and referred to former County Executive Ken Ulman as "little Kenny Jew-boy."

The report alleged the sheriff told one employee: "African-American deputies are not too smart, but they get the job done."

And that he told a black deputy at a banquet that there was no watermelon for him.

So his list of offenses pretty much covers the entire panoply of filthy disgusting awfulness. It was clearly time for him to go, and he leaves after a career as a county cop before being elected sheriff ten years ago. (In Howard, and many other Maryland counties, the sheriff's office is not the county's primary law enforcement agency, but, rather, provides courthouse security, serves warrants, transports prisoners and handles  landlord-tenant disputes.)

Credit for removing this blight (and make no mistake: Fitzgerald is a Democrat and the current county exec is Republican) goes to Howard County Council Chairman Calvin Ball, who persuaded the sheriff that it was best for all concerned that he take his pension and vamoose.  Also, Deputy Charles Gable, who likened Fitzgerald's management to a "reign of terror," and quit his job during the investigation, will be reinstated with $58,350 in back pay.

When I was in ninth grade (1966) at the now-destroyed (not by me) Towsontown Junior High School, we were ushered into the cafeteria one warm spring afternoon to hear a talk by the Baltimore County State's Attorney, one Samuel Green, an alumnus of our citadel of middle education.  He went on for a period, speaking of how hard work and honesty and diligence and Doing The Right Thing propelled him to be the county's top prosecutor. And the teachers all cheered and reminded us that one of us could someday aspire to be as great as Sam Green.

In 1974, as the investigations into corruption in our fair county hit pay dirt, it turned out that Green helped to cover up a bribe from some dude who wanted to clear his arrest record, cheated on his expense account, agreed to fix a case in exchange for sex, threatened to kill a former deputy, hired women strictly for their sexual skills (his personal assistant listed "hat check girl" under "previous training and experience"), cheated a client for whom he served as legal guardian out of $235,000, and forced people at his lurid sex parties into "individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here," as Doug Niedermeyer would have said.

But here I am, thinking that nonsense like this ended years ago. Here's to a fresh start in Howard County.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"I ran so fast, my breath came in short pants"

All I know about human biology is that men ♂ and women ♀ are different. 

And that's more than I know about calculus!

But I saw a gaggle of teenaged guys the other day, traipsing through BuySumMor in that 15-year-old manner, which means picking up every item not fastened down, examining it for 1.2 seconds, and putting it back down with a chuckle.

You see, 15-year-old boys do that because 15-year-old girls look them over for less than 1.2 seconds before putting them down and running off with college guys.

It's been tough being 15 since Adam was 15.  But Adam wore a loincloth or something, not pants.

The worst thing about being a male of 15 was always that your back-to-school pants, which fit so perfectly in August when you stood there in Sears wearing long pants for the first time in two months, are climbing up your legs.  

By Thanksgiving, all those pants that were so perfect on Labor Day are useless unless you have a little brother or something. "Growing pains," kindly old Dr Pratt said, as I looked around the office for a fresh copy of "Highlights."

I learned all the tricks when I was coming up. If I had pants with cuffs, I could always turn them down for an extra inch or so of pantness, but that sort of looked like something The Darling Family would do when they came to Mayberry, so I just wound up hitting the family treasury for some new khakis.

Image result for tiny mens suitsFor a while, I was concerned, because I wasn't seeing so many young guys with calf-pants, but then I came to realize that the fashion world hath decreed that ALL men should dress like Pee-Wee Herman now in ill-fitting itty-bitty suits, so there's another problem solved.

The ill-clad man at left is probably the manager of a hedge fund valued in the billions, and yet, I wouldn't go out front and trim the hedges dressed like that.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bad to the Bone

I really thought that the most awful thing we would find out about Ken Bone, days after he soared to worldwide fame and acclaim by asking a question of the candidates at the town hall debate on Sunday last, was that the only reason he was wearing that quarter-zip red sweater was that he was wearing an olive suit, but the pants split when he went to get in the car and drive to the televised brouhaha.

I know that people will write the story this way, that we Americans love to build someone up, someone from clear out of the blue, and then we love to tear them down for no apparent reason.  

But I think it's a bit different with this fellow.  True, last Sunday evening was the first time 99% of us ever saw him, and he seemed like an earnest enough fellow, if a little...uncool, in that cool way of being uncool.

But by Thursday evening, he had shown himself to be a little...weird, in that uncool way of being weird.

He did what they call an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, using his sobriquet "StanGibson18" (Stan Gibson is a character in the Marvel comics, you see, and this handle indicates that there are at least 17 others assuming that fake identity, in that same sad way you used to get emails from "FlockOfSeagullsFan21204").  And this revealed some disturbing thoughts and notions that run through the Bone brain.  

To wit:

  • He called the shooting death of Trayvon Martin "justified." Ho states that shooter George Zimmerman seems like "a big ole s--t bird." but synopsizes the shooting of an unarmed teenager as "Bad guy legally kills kid in self-defense. Sucks for everybody, including us due to the media f---ery."

  • He went on a site that you don't want your boss or anyone else with a shred of decency to see - "PreggoPorn" - and goes on about how he finds pregnant women to be a prurient thrill.  He calls them "beautiful human submarines." 
  • In what can only called a benefit for the human race, he extols the virtues of having a vasectomy. But it's not about the birth control for him; he doesn't mention depriving the world of future Bones as yet unborn.  In graphic detail, he describes the coital supremacy accruing to men following the procedure: "I had mine done 2 years ago. Sexual satisfaction is way up. My wife loves it too…Can’t recommend it enough."
  • Bone, who recently struck a deal to endorse the Uber car service, says he forged insurance papers to make it appear that he was that he could keep a pizza delivery job. "I forged documents to make it look like I had car insurance so I wouldn’t get fired. Can’t say how I did them, I don’t know how long the statute of limitations is on that."

  • So little was known of the Bone when he stood to ask his question on television.  But within a week, we found out that he supports gunning down teenagers for no reason, he has some bizarre fetishes, he is willing to cruise the streets of his town driving pizzas to people without insuring his car (and is now urging us to hire non-taxis to taxi us around).

    But at least we know his wife is one satisfied customer, so there's that.