Tuesday, February 28, 2017

One for the books

They say it's a sin to tell a lie, even the little white lies that are based on good intent.

And should former Major Leaguer Chuck Finley, winner of 200 games in a 17-year career, and former husband of "actress" Tawny Kitaen, be proud to have his name used in a library fake-out of white lies and unread books?

What am I talking about?

Come with me to East Lake County, Florida, where a couple of guys who worked for the local public library were worried that some books might be taken off the shelves because they weren't being taken out.

Hey, there was a time when I wasn't being taken out, and no one worried so much.

Anyway.  George Dore, library director, and his assistant, Scott Amey, had a problem. Their funding was directly tied to how many books were being checked out, so they decided to create a phantom reader (and name him "Chuck Finley" with a bogus address) and dummy things up so that it looked like that chimera checked out 2,361 books over a nine-month period.

One look at "Chuck's" reading list would show "he" "read" "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck, and "Why Do My Ears Pop?" by Ann Fullick, a book for children, and 2,359 others.

In November, someone dropped a dime (quietly, one hopes!) on this book scam, and no lesser an authority than the Lake County clerk of courts' inspector general's office figured out the fakery, and Dore was put on administrative leave while everything was filed.

"Do we have problems here? Oh Dewey ever!" he did not say.

Dore's boss is Jeff Cole, director of the Lake County Public Resources Department, and would not discuss Dore's claims that "other people do the same thing," but anyone who was ever 8 years of age recalls their parents asking them whether they would jump off a bridge just because all the other kids did.

There seems to be a flaw or two in Dore's plans. The books that Finley "read" were checked out and returned within an hour, and there is no record of Finley leaving his home in Newport Beach, CA, to come get books from a library 2,544 miles away.

All the chicanery "improved" the library's circulation by 3.9 percent, and maybe someone will write  book about it someday.

The report from the Inspector General is due in 21 days, with a fine to be assessed daily if it's late.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Just a litter too much

Residents of my neighborhood are often startled to see an old man strutting around the streets of HaHa Heights, clad in a hoodie and sweats and Rockports and listening to an iPod that might send him from Weezer to Bing Crosby to The Ronettes to Sammy Davis, Jr. to Tompall and the Glaser Brothers.

I am that man, and I thank you for not running me over with your automobile.

When I'm on the main road, I keep my eyes on the traffic coming in both directions, and then on the side streets, I tend to look down at what's on the pavement. It's awful, what people throw out of their cars as they career along. Empty bottles and cans. One shoe. McWrappers. Pens (apparently empty). Blue plastic grocery bags. Asian carryout doorknob hanging menus. Nails and screws (I stoop to get these). Deflated non-bouncy balls. And a half-empty roll of duct tape.

With little else on my mind but what song will pop up next in my iEars, I ponder the provenance of this roadside trash. There is no excuse for tossing out your empty bottle of Miller Golden Draft or Sutter Home, or anything else for that matter, but I keep seeing that half roll of "duck" tape in the same spot day after day, and I keep thinking someone was rolling along in someone's car, taping up some broken thing, and then just tossed out what remained on the roll rather than have it rolling around in the car.  

Because who wants a messy car, when you can just as easily have a messy street?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Rerun: You're the only one

I have a prized record album among my many treasures, a 1964 concert recording called "Jerry Lee Lewis: The Greatest Live Show on Earth."  The first words you hear on the record are the emcee of this concert saying, "Live! from the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium, in the WVOK Shower of Stars, the one...the only...Jerry Lee Lewis!"

And then, Jerry Lee comes out and sings and plays.  I got this record in high school and now own it on CD as well, and so as a conservative estimate, I would say I have listened to that concert 17 million times over the years, or fewer.

But it wasn't until just the other day that I listened closely enough to hear what the DJ said at first.  (It had to be a DJ; no one else talks like that!) 

"The one...the only."

And it dawned on me, a little late because I'm dim that way, that we are ALL the ONE and ONLY whoever we are.  You are the only YOU!

Even Jerry Lee Lewis, the rock 'n' roll pioneer born in 1935 in Ferriday, LA, who is often confused with funnyman/philanthropist Jerry Lewis (born Joseph Levitch, Newark NJ, 1926), is the only Jerry Lee Lewis, as far as fame and accomplishment go.  It is entirely possible that there are other people named Jerry Lee Lewis running around, but that's not my point.

What is my point (and you knew I'd get to it sometime today) is that there is only one of each of us.  Each human has his or her strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, private joys and sorrows and public versions of the same as well. I talk to young people a lot (they are the only people I can find who haven't heard all my tales and yarns) and one point I try to make to them is that their individuality is so important.  If we see each other as cookie-cutter versions of everyone else, that means we are only looking at the surface.  What's in each cookie...each person...is what makes us unique.  We have two cats.  Eddie runs to the door when company comes, ready to show off and be adored.  Deanna runs to the basement, peering up the stairs to see when it's safe to come out again.  Two sister cats; two personalities.  

I like hominy and sausage, art that looks real, and music from the heart.  I despise lies, and meanness, and sad goodbyes.  We all could go on and you're not ever going to find someone else with all the same favorites and dislikes, and how wonderful that is.

Thank you for being the one...the only...YOU!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, February 25, 2017

Think about it.  There must be a word for when things are switched. Like when you use an English muffin in place of a hamburger bun...that's called "roll reversal."
They say brown eggs contain the same nutrition as white, but they sure look homier in commercials, don't they?
I recommend this movie wholeheartedly! I see that it was a big box-office flopola, but if you see it and you don't fall in love with Anna Kendrick, I just don't know what. It reminded me of "The Big Hit" which starred Marky Mark and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Because it doesn't look like we're having a winter this winter, here's a picture from last winter. Blizzards. Sledding. Winter coats.
Nature provides the best camouflage, even better than LL Bean or Ed E. Bauer.
OK, so I'm a little peeved at Nature this winter for denying me the bitter cold weather and icy precipitation, but she makes up for it with displays like this!
I think this apartment building followed the architecture of those cookie-cutter stadia like they had in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
Not long ago, I found myself involved in an imbroglio involving people who were upset because the Starbux coffee chain wants to install a drive-through restaurant on the main road in our county seat.  Just for the sake of context, this is what children in other parts of the world have to pass by on their way to getting an education every day.

Friday, February 24, 2017

He bombed out

We read and hear the conventional wisdom that bigtime drug dealers (a/k/a "Kingpins" and "Czars") would be just as successful running major corporations, with their innate business acumen and learned abilities to deal with personnel, supply, and distribution issues.

To test this theory, I suggest to the television networks that they try a companion show to my beloved "Undercover Boss" called "From The Alley to the Boardroom," in which we would see a local vendor of illicit substances promoted to running a Fortune 500 corporation.  Such compelling viewing! Watch, as "Timmy Fish-Eyes" becomes known as J. Timothy O'Hoolahan, CEO, COO, HMFIC of one of America's premier distributors of sugary soft drinks and salty snack chips!

And while I'm divvying up the ideas that occur to me at 0347 hrs daily, why not team up two great spectator sports - NASCAR and the New York Stock Exchange - and have a race called the Fortune 500, in which capitalists race around in their Beamers and Land Ruiners and Buicks?  First one to the golf course gets the best tee time!

Good ideas aren't hard to find if you look in the right places. For the next few years, I wouldn't ask Mark Barnett, late of Ocala, FL, because his plan looks like it hit a few snags.

It seemed deliciously simple.  ALLEGEDLY, Barnett, 48, offered a guy $10,000 to place bombs cleverly hidden in food packages (I'm thinking Jiffy-Pop) on the shelves at 10 Target stores from New York to Florida.

"Once the boxes had detonated inside of Target stores, Barnett theorized that the company's stock value would plunge allowing him to acquire shares cheaply before an eventual rebound," is how the Federal complaint puts it.

And he would buy the stock low and sell it high!  How could that go wrong?

Well, I guess if the guy took his 10 large and went right to the federal authorities, that would be one way.  And that's what happened.

The ALLEGED perpetrator.  He'll
have his day in court. 
Barnett had to hire help for his master scheme because he's already busy being on probation for kidnapping, multiple counts of sexual battery with a weapon or force, and grand theft. The government tacked charges of possession of a firearm that has affected interstate or foreign commerce onto his lengthy rap sheet.

But don't you worry!  He'll be in stir for a while (we hope) - long enough to come up with another airtight plot!

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Image result for mike ilitch wikiIn his later years, he wore the nuttiest toupee seen anywhere east of Phil Spector's, but you really have to hand it to Little Caesars Pizza king Mike Ilitch, a Detroit native who got out of the Marines and played minor league baseball in the Tigers farm system for several years until a knee injury put him on the bench for good.

He came home and started the pizza chain with his wife, and at the time of his death last week, was one of the 400 richest men in America.  Not bad for the son of an immigrant Macedonian tool-and-die maker and his wife!

And he is credited with a great deal of the money and energy behind the renaissance of Detroit, a Rust Belt city hit hard by changing economic times and fortunes. He owned the Tigers ballclub, as well as the Red Wings of the National Hockey League, and he purchased real estate in downtown Detroit to keep his business headquarters there, keeping thousands employed.

Of course, contrast this with the stinginess of that Papa Pizza guy who says just because he makes a fortune, he doesn't see any need to share his loot with the people who work for him or anything.  

Ilitch worked hard and spent his money, seeding his community with his earnings to make a chance for all to succeed.  And while all this was known, here's something not so widely known until his sad passing:

Rosa Parks, the mother of the civil rights movement, moved to Detroit shortly after the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott she started.  She was living in Motown in 1994, and that was when someone broke into her home, robbing and assaulting her. Damon Keith, a Detroiter and a retired federal judge, got word of this and let Ilitch know that Ms Parks needed a safer home.

"They don't go around saying it, but I want to, at this point, let them know, how much the Ilitches not only meant to the city, but they meant so much for Rosa Parks," Keith told WXYZ.

For the next 11 years, until Ms Parks's death in 2005, the Ilitches paid her rent for a unit in the Riverfront Apartments downtown. The judge showed a check from 1994 for $2,000, and that continued monthly, with no public fanfare or publicity.

"You'll never discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. Mike and (his wife) Marian had the courage to lose sight of the shore and discover new oceans," Judge Keith told the TV station. "They kept pushing Detroit, and had it not been for them, I am saying, Detroit would not be in the renaissance that they're in now."

We can't all discover new oceans, or pay someone else's rent. But without spending a nickel, we can discover good things in each other, and we can pay each other compliments free for nothin'!

And if you have megapizza dough, here's an example of a great way to $hare it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

And now you know

Austin was the life of the party, and the party ran a little late into the early hours of last Saturday.  At 22, he was still known by his high school nickname, "the little guy with a big truck."  So there he was in the early dawn, zipping home along the rolling hills of Alabama's Highway 49.  He was not wearing his seatbelt as he steered his Chevy.

Jeffrey was 50, a hardworking husband and father who habitually arose very early because his job demanded it.  He was a bread deliveryman for Flowers Bakery in Winfield, Alabama.  He also drove a pickup, a Ford, and also failed to belt himself in. Jeff was driving it to the bakery to round up his daily bread deliveries at 4:10 AM on Saturday when, on that dark road in the rural south, the Ford and the Chevy collided head-on, and both men met their ends.

Folks all over that part of Alabama were hit hard by the sadness of the terrible crash on the road out there where the only illumination comes from the moon and headlights. There was only half a moon on Saturday.  Jeff and Austin may not even have seen each other's oncoming vehicle until it was way too late, but both are now being fondly recalled in death.

Jeffrey’s sister Pamela said this to AL.com of her brother: "He loved being a husband and father … the kind of guy who, if you needed something, you’d go to him because he would help. He wanted to make you smile, and his kids were his number one priority."

His kids.  One of whom was Austin.
Austin Brasher (l) and Jeffrey Brasher (r)

“We need to hold on tight to our faith,” Pamela said. “We love Austin and Jeff and our family will never be the same. We want everyone to hug and spend time with their families. Love your family every day. Don’t let anything go unsaid. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

And then...

For most of us, life is a series of cycles. We get up, make breakfast, feed the pets, go to work, eat lunch, work some more, go home, watch Family Feud while grinding on a salad 'n' steak, and watch television while alternately dozing and laughing over something on a situation comedy (or the news).

Image result for loon lakeAnd then, we go to sleep, have bizarre dreams concerning falling out of tall buildings, and being called upon to solve a math problem at the blackboard while not wearing any pants, and get up to go all over again. 52 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 40 years of work, minus two weeks every summer at Loon Lake: you're going to lather, rinse and repeat that cycle 10,000 times.

So life has a way of cutting past the monotony and sending little rewards to us. People are capable of such love, such goodness, that it stands out.  

Like the time a friend of mine drove over 50 miles early one summer morning just to be there for me for my mother's viewing and funeral.  At such a time, as many of you know, sadness whirls past us like a morbid merry-go-round spinning out of control, and one person showing up with a kind hug and comforting word means more to the heart than one's words can convey.

Or, like what happened in a restaurant the other night. A woman surrounded by others are her table was being drowned out by rabid political talk. She wanted to express her concerns about human rights, education, the environment, but was shut down at every turn. Her feelings and intentions ignored, she finally said, "I’ll discuss this when you listen to my WHY," only to be shut down by a man who had been part of the rabble saying, "I want to eat my dinner. I don’t want to listen to your politics anymore."

Another woman dining there that evening heard all this, and when she went to the restroom, she jotted these words on the back of a slip of paper: "The WHY matters and I hear you. – an Environmental Science teacher."  She slipped the note to the lady who had been so unfairly treated by the galoots she dined with, and went back to her supper.

On her way out, the woman stopped and hugged that teacher.  

It's in the moments like those that we see the strength of character that gives some of us the boost we need to get over the bridges and hurdles that life, and some of our companions, put in our place. I'm certain that lady went home knowing that, no matter what else, someone is out there for her, someone is listening, someone is giving her the respect everyone deserves. The gift of confidence is like no other.

What a gift, what a grace note, what a blessing!

I'll never in a million years tell you any names.  And I don't think you're surprised at all to find that the same angelic woman is responsible for both of these kindnesses (and thousands more!)

Monday, February 20, 2017

See ya later...

I was just about over the stunning outcome of the college football championship, in which my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide came up short against the Clemson Tigers. I have no doubt that next year at this time, the natural order of superiority will return, and 'Bama will once again parade around with the crown.

But in the meantime, there's this alligator...

In Hanahan, South Carolina, there is a pond where dwells an orange alligator.

And you ask why I don't want to move anywhere. I like to walk around my neighborhood after dark, and while I can deal with deer, dogs, foxes and an occasional surly cat crossing my path, there is something about alligators and crocodiles that brings out my atavistic fear of being consumed like a four-piece chicken box by some dinosaur-like creature.

Some down that way are saying the alligator is orange because he is a Clemson fan. I have to wonder about that, because I checked Map-A-Rama, and find that there's a distance of 203.05 miles from Hanahan to Clemson as the crow flies, and 230.67 miles by car.

And of course, no alligator needs to roam a couple hundred miles away in search of food, when there are always golfers people right close by.  I can't see one hopping on a Greyhound bus, although I can see one hopping on a greyhound.

Local Hanahanians say this beast is about 4 or 5 feet long, and currently residing in a retention pond in the Tanner Plantation community. 

They should hope that retention pond lives up to its name.

Jay Butfiloski with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources says that maybe this creature spent the winter in a rusty steel pipe and got the orangeness that way.  

People versed in the ways of nature point out that alligators shed their skin every year, when the new spring line comes out, so look for that murky green brown 'gator look as soon as he can get to Nordstrom and do some shopping. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Rerun: A Tale of Two Blood Samples

Peggy goes to the Q. Diagnostic Center:

The whole way over to Towson, her car is borne aloft by the wings of angels, and it seems to park itself in the giant garage, where a team of valets waits to detail the Corolla in the 4 minutes she will be away from it.

She steps into the lobby as a man in a big red coat and snappy uniform hat holds the door for her.  An elevator attendant has the car ready for her to step into.  A sofa is in the elevator for her to rest while she rides up four stories, and then she steps off the elevator just as a smiling employee holds the door, offers her a nice cold water and takes her right back into the blood draw area, which has opened long before the scheduled 7:30 start just because.

Robert Wagner, wearing a velvet blazer with a silk scarf and shirt, is there waiting for her with a dozen mixed roses.  They chat amiably during the 13 seconds it takes to select a vein and draw enough blood.  As she leaves the room, Celine Dion music is on the radio, and Peggy wafts back to the car on an ocean breeze of love and good feeling.  On the way home, cars seem to part like Moses and the Red Sea, and she is home in minutes.

Mark goes to the Q. Diagnostic Center:

Every nutball between here and Towson is out this morning, making left turns from the right lane, pulling out of Dunkin Dognuts with a Bavarian Creme in their right hand and a Mocha Chocolata YaYa in the other while steering with their knees, and speeding like it's Indianapolis.  OF COURSE the person pulling into the garage ahead of me miscalculates how to pull up to the parking ticket dispenser, so they have to get out and take 20 minutes to get their ticket.  Once parked, I get in the elevator and get to the blood center at 0704.  Minutes later, a lady comes along to be second in line, but she asks if I am in a hurry because SHE has to go to work and it doesn't look like I have to. And then along comes a senior couple, and the lady starts jawing with them about how there didn't used to be a bench to sit on but now there is and her daughter moved back in with her two kids and a baby and the dogs and she had to teach her daughter how to roast a turkey so they did that yesterday and for Thanksgiving she is making the Lithuanian side dish that everyone loves so much, and also a pie, but pumpkin this year because apple is too sugary, and we had a pecan pie and we were going to freeze 1/2 of it but we kept eating until there wasn't enough to freeze and isn't a shame about Joe Flacco.

They run through every vegetable, appetizer, side dish and entree that has ever been served at any Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, because I have to fast, hearing about great heaping plates spilling over with turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy does not bother me a bit.
The receptionist opens the door at precisely 7:30 and we file in. No phlebotomist is around, but she walks in at 0733 with a cheery greeting for her coworker ("What you opening early for?" "I didn't!") and five minutes later calls me back with this pleasant invitation ("Clark!  Room 1!").

"In The Air Tonight," the most deadly horrible of all the awful songs in the Phil Collins canon, is pounding off the walls and into my ears as I sit gently upon the Throne Of Blood.  The phlebotomist can't get enough red stuff out of my right arm and mumbles that I need to drink more.

Finally! Just what I've been waiting to hear!  And from a medical professional, no less.  I go home and take her advice.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Saturday Picture Show, February 18, 2017

Dateline: my own neighborhood, right around the corner across from the Senior High Rise where I'll probably spend the last years of my life beginning in maybe 10 years and ending, who knows? I'm not saying it was one of the residents who attempted to open a drive-in window at the laundromat. But I am saying that you had all better come visit me at the old folks' home senior living center, or I'll get in a car and drive over to see you, and you know how that will go...
This is the amazing ├śresund Bridge, which takes you from Sweden to Denmark (whether you want to go, or not). It's 5 miles from Sweden to Peberholm, in the middle of the strait. There is a 2.5 mile tunnel called the Drogden Tunnel, and that takes you from Peberholm to the Danish island of Amager. 
Remember the first guy (or woman) in the office who figured that you could write in yellow hi-liter on a master copy of a form and Xerox it, without the yellow showing up? Here in my continuing fascination with food plummeting from heaven during commercials is how they make it look like the parts of a cheeseburger descend from above to make your lunch.  The food sits on wires which do not show in the pictures.
This was New York in the 1970s, in case anyone thinks it's impossible for big Eastern cities to get themselves cleaned up for company.
On the other hand...this looks like an ad for Vigoro, which makes everything turn green (including your neighbors!)
I don't know the nature of this trial, but this fellow is obviously translating for the jury the words of the accused pumpkin.
Part of our Famous Jackets In History series: this is a leather bomber jacket worn by General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower during World War II.  I'm telling you, you get good quality leather, and it will last you for years and years and years.

And we wrap up this week's fun with a bird who recognized himself in the book the man is reading, and came in for a better look!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hello Goodbye

This one is even more personal than most, but I'm sharing it to help us all understand.

I was good friends with another person since 1973.  Let's call that person "X" as in ex-friend now.  Because.

Image result for 1973 kojak
Nothing says "1973" to me
like Kojak
X and I worked in the same field and had dozens of friends in common, and we often talked of work stuff but also family stuff and medical stuff...as friends will do, over the years.

I might add, never a harsh word passed between us over the years, all 44 of them.  And there were times that we each achieved successes and had good things coming our way, and just the same, we each had our turns in the barrel as well as in the sunshine.

So, you get the picture: a fair friendship of many decades.

In late January, X texted me to complain about a coworker, and we went back and forth on that topic and then moved on to "how are you doing?" and such.  X is single, having suffered that most awful loss of a spouse to death years ago, and still despairs of love ever returning.

When I tried that night to offer words of reassurance, I was met with hostility for the first time ever in our relationship, about how the hell do I know what it's like to lose someone like that. Well, no, I can't empathize, not ever having been there, but I sympathize. I want everyone to love and be loved, especially a friend of many years.

Well, within a few minutes, everything went way south, and as much as I tried to say I was feeling that pain for X, X was having none of it and said "I think I need a timeout from you" and boom, hit that unfriend button and walk away.

And then...I remembered so many times I saw X boast of how fast friends would be unfriended for daring to share a contrary opinion. We never disagreed on a political matter, but those who did, and said so, were banished from X land.

And then...I remembered how many times on the phone X would denigrate other people for whatever reason and say they were no longer to be spoken of, or to.

And then I realized that X does not like to be happy, and is doing everything possible to remove any trace of it, and that none of this has anything to do with all of us banished to the Island Of Former Friends.

It's a funny world. Someone oughta sell tickets.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just Joshin'

It's the wise person who learns lessons through the mistakes of others.

You know that Josh Elliott guy on TV.  I mean, you have to, if you watch, because he has now been given the gate from CBS, to go along with his unceremonious departures from ESPN, ABC, where he was on Good Morning America and found himself on the sidewalk with the rest of the viewers because he wanted a Robin Roberts-type salary, and NBC, where they thought he might replace Bob Costas, but found out that people would sooner just not watch the Olympics if he was part of the show.

He only went to work for CBS 11 months ago and was the main daytime anchor of their streaming service, CBSN, which is what people in offices with no cable TV service have to watch. Apparently, there were plans to move him up in stature, and that was to begin by having him go out and so some reporting.

So last Friday, like a guy who just found out he was getting promoted from being the guy at a used car lot who washes used cars all day, Josh made what the New York Times called a "rather gushy announcement that he would no longer be one of the streaming service’s main anchors."

His bosses, who are busy juggling all the other reporters and anchors, did not know he planned to spotlight his personal sendoff, and so they called him in on Monday morning to tell him to pack up his stuff and go home.  

That's a tough business, TV, where the dollars and egos and future and risks are very large. You have to figure that what Josh Elliott did, announcing with a certain pride that he was moving up from the junior varsity, is not a sin requiring him to be fired...unless they were already tired of him, and looking for a way to send him packing.

He's STILL getting paid by NBC, and now CBS has to pay off the rest of his contract too.  

Two paychecks still coming in for doing nothing! No wonder people line up to get jobs like that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Brand new words!

One of the many things that amuse me is that the people at Merriam-Webster, like workers at an AYCE* buffet, keep piling new fresh words onto the lexicon tureen that we call the English language.

I mean, if you haven't finished your edamame** or your headcheese**, you're not supposed to go back to the trough to load your tray with more mystery meats.

And since we clearly haven't learned all the words in the current dictionary, why are they adding more to the word plate?

Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, have come out with their annual list of new words added to the reference volume. This year, a thousand words were added to their online version, which is what I turn to to check spelling, usage and pronunciation.

They don't say whether they remove words that are no longer in use, but I would suggest "groovy," "floppy disk," and "future" for any list of words we don't need.

OK then..for some of the words that are on the list...

Seussian ("of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss")
made the list. I'm that one-in-a-million person who has no time for silly Seussian poetry. Sorry, but "Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!" just
doesn't work for me, either as philosophy or poetry. 

I prefer the words of Nipsey Russell, who taught us, "What is the secret of eternal youth? The answer is easily told; All you gotta do if you wanna look young is hang out with people who are old."

Side eye.
We've all given it; we've all gotten it.
Much more portable. How about these other newly-official words? There's face-palm ("to cover one's face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment"), SCOTUS ("Supreme Court of the United States"), FLOTUS ("First Lady of the United States"), ride shotgun (I can't believe this term would take a back seat to any other seating designation) and side eye, which is better described in one picture than in a thousand words. 

This time next year, when the next list comes out, I look forward to checking them out.  Perhaps "Spicer out" will be a recognized verb by then, paralleling "go postal," but meaning "to lose one's cool at a simple press gathering," or "flopcorn" (the dud kernels that are never never gonna fulfill their destiny) or even that French term for 20/20 hindsight, "L’esprit de l’escalier" (literally, staircase wit, for when you think of a clever retort when you're halfway down the stairs and out the door). 

2017 can be the year for great new words.  Won't YOU help?

* All You Can Eat (should be listed!)
** two things you won't find on my plate

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Next week: Who invented it?

No fan of fiction, when there are so many facts to be learned, I usually avoid theme parks built around cartoon characters and fairytale princes and princesses, although I will be in line as soon as Itchy & ScratchyLand opens.

But there is something good in everything, even though sometimes you have to look beyond the castles to see what that is. For instance, Vaseline, the first-aid kit in a jar, is simply the byproduct of oil refining.  Guys who worked those pumps drawing crude oil out of the ground found this gunky substance around the base of the pump and noticed that when they removed it, their hands wound up all smooth and creamy and dreamy.

Anyway.  We can thank Disneyland in California for...(drum roll....) Doritos!

And here's why.  Right after they opened The House Built For A Mouse in 1955, Elmer Doolin, inventor of Fritos, opened Casa de Fritos, a Mexican restaurant, in Frontierland. It served the food now called Tex-Mex: tamales, chile, Frito pie, enchiladas and the "Ta-Cup," essentially a taco in a Fritos shell (That sounds great!!!!)

Somewhere along the line, a salesman for the Fritos company visited the Casa and noticed that kitchen staff was throwing out the broken taco shells.

American industry abhors waste of this sort.  Next time you fire up the charcoal grill, notice the Kingsford label on the charcoal bag. E.G. Kingsford was a relative of Henry Ford who saw wood that used in shipping crates for Ford auto parts being tossed out, and figured a way to turn them into charcoal so that you could have a nice steak this Saturday night.

They started serving those broken chips along with taco salads, re-naming something they used to throw away as "Doritos," Spanish for "little pieces of gold."  Soon, the demand for Doritos outgrew the demand for taco shells, and business is thriving.

Image result for doritosPersonally, I still like the plain original taco Doritos, but they probably sell more of the Jacked 3D Bacon Cheddar Ranch, Supreme Cheddar, Cool Ranch, and Dinamita Fiery Habanero.
Image result for mickey mouse eating taco

Which one does Mickey like most? 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chipping away

Everything has to be the Official Something Or Other anymore. If you watched the Super Bowl, you were supposed to be feeling bad about yourself for smuggling in those store brand corn chips, instead of hewing to the NFL line and gobbling Tostitos, the Official Snack Chips of Super Bowl LI.

There is probably an Official Hemorrhoid Cream and an Official Athletic Supporter/Truss, but let's not worry about them now. The good people at Tostitos made a special bag for their salty snacks that actually functions as a breath-alcohol tester, the theory being that people who drank too much at a Super Bowl party would breathe on the bag before hopping in the Biscayne for the ride home.

If you were safe to drive, theoretically, the bag would light up green, clearing you, and you would drive on.

If you were too much under the affluence of incohol to get behind the wheel, the bag was to turn red and give you a coupon code good for 10 bucks off an Uber ride home.

Also, the sound of sirens played from the bag and a tiny police officer made of mashed corn would appear and place itty-bitty corn handcuffs on your wrists. No, not really. That would be silly.

The, the bag's fine print goes on to say, "This is not an actual breathalyzer. Under no circumstances should you rely on the results of the device to determine intoxication levels which may result in decisions to operate vehicles or equipment of any kind or participate in any type of activity, task or duty."

We could talk all day about the warning notices on commercials for drug products, commercials where they say not to take the stuff if you don't want to die or deal with uncontrolled discharges. There's also one on the Weather Channel, saying no to make travel or business plans just based on their 15-day forecast.

SO, to sum it up, they sell you a bag of snack chips, salted to make you guzzle more beer, and then if you drink too much beer, you can use the breathalyzer to determine your fitness to drive home, except you shouldn't rely on the results.

I was so confused. I had a bag of Utz Multigrain Pretzels and then blew on it. Results were negative - the remaining pretzels said nothing -  so I went to drive home, and then realized I was already there.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Rerun: It's Chili Inside

It was Saturday.  It was chilly and cloudy and intermittently raining in sideways slants that felt like a million little shaving nicks.  You needed a hat to keep the rain off your melon, but you also had to hold the hat on your melon, or the wind would blow it away into a puddle.

Stevie Nicks
In other words, just my kind of day!
But we were at the big store buying cat supplies (there's a teaser for you!) and whatnot, and Peggy had mentioned feeling like it was a good day to have chili for dinner.  Chili con carne, as they say in sunny Mexico, not to be confused with Art Carney.

Chili sounded good, as I edged toward the food department of the BA store.  But it had to be fresh, homemade chili.  Canned chili? Just look at the ingredients!
I didn't know what exactly I needed to make a couple of great bowls o' chili, but Google knows everything, and I asked Ms Google for the best chili recipe.  I was directed at once to the gimmesomeoven.com website and their recipe for five-ingredient easy chili.

When they say "five ingredients" and "easy," they ain't kiddin,' boy! A pound of ground beef (or a "lb" of ground beef), 3 cans of Ro*tel tomatoes with diced green chilies (buy the store*brand), 2 cans of kidney beans (again with the store brand), two tablespoons of chili powder, and a cut-up onion.

You round up those ingredients and you go home and find that big stockpot that came with the 147-piece home cookware set that Aunt Fritzi gave you, heat it up with a little olive oil, toss in the beef, brown it, toss in the diced onion and the chili powder and the canned tomatoes/chilies and beans, bring it all to a boil and then let it simmer for fifteen minutes or so, which gives you time to round up some grated cheddar and plain yogurt to dollop on the top of the best chili ever!

Sure, there are Texans who will tell you that if you want chili this Saturday, you should have started cooking last week.  We don't have time for that.  Counting the time you have to wait in line behind the family buying cookies and snack cakes for next week's school lunches, and the ride home, you can have great chili in just about an hour if you start right now.

Go ahead!  We'll be right here when you get back!