Friday, May 31, 2019

Where there's no will, there's no way

There was a lot to R-E-S-P-E-C-T about the late singer Aretha Franklin, but I have to say, her attention to the legal matters that, like it or not, are part of everyone's life, is not among them.

As you might recall, it was said that Aretha left no will when she passed on last August, and now three handwritten wills have been found in her Detroit home.

Two of the new-found wills were locked up in a closet, the key for which took since last summer to find, and then they found another will hidden under the cushions of her sofa.

So now, of course, the whole matter of who inherits what from the music legend will be tied up for years and years in court proceedings. These documents are written on 16 scrawled pages. No one has even verified that the handwriting is that of Ms Franklin. And even if it can be proven that she wrote them, it will be up to judges who probably haven't been born yet to determine the validity of the wills.

One of the pages of the purported wills.
Aretha Franklin had four sons, and there is a person who has been appointed as personal representative of her estate. So all those people are lining up for their share of the soup, and it will be a while before all get a chance to dine.

Assuming that the wills were written by Aretha, they do indicate her desire to make sure all four sons are to be treated fairly. They indicate that her assets are to be divided equally among her three younger sons, with detailed instructions for the care of her eldest son Clarence, who has unspecified special needs.
Clarence is 64 and was born when Aretha was only 12. These wills deny the long-held account that his father is one Donald Burk (or Burke), a classmate of Aretha, claiming that Clarence's father is really Edward Jordan, Sr, father of another of the singer's sons, Edward, who was born to Aretha at age 14.

That will also holds this declaration concerning Clarence's care: "His father, Edward Jordan Sr., should never receive or handle any money or property belonging to Clarence or that Clarence receives as he has never made any contribution to his welfare, future or past, monetarily, material, spiritual, etc."

There will be a hearing to start sorting all this out on June 12.

Your lawyer friends, and your friend Mark, will advise you strongly to get a will made up before you die.

After that, it will be just too late.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

'"And so, in conclusion..."

There are often incidents at graduations. People are told not to applaud each individual cap-and-gowner, or else you'll all be there until midnight. Some family members get there at 3 in the yawning to hold seats for the others who will arrive just as Elgar's "Pomp And Circumstance" starts pomping it up.

And there will always be a long-winded speaker who is just getting started as the grads in the back row start to doze off.  And the valedictorian who figures no one else ever made the point that "Commencement isn't the END of anything; it's the BEGINNING of all our adventures as we blah blah blah..."

But we have to hand it to one member of the class of 2019 at good old Towson University, right here in my home town. For all-around asininity, this guy (it HAD to have been a guy, right?) takes the cake.  Here is the official statement from the university:

Earlier today during a commencement ceremony, a graduating student released an unknown substance in celebration while walking across the stage. The ceremony continued as planned, as the student was removed and questioned by TUPD, and at no time was anyone in harm’s way. After the conclusion of the ceremony, out of an abundance of caution, Baltimore County Hazmat was called to the scene to investigate, and determined that the substance was not a hazardous material. We look forward to the continuing commencement celebrations and ask that all participants follow commencement safety guidelines to ensure everyone in attendance can enjoy this celebration of academic achievement.

Now, because this happened in America in 2019, it was discussed on Facebook, giving people the chance to show their complete lack of depth.  Because it did not take long before helicopter parents and laissez-faire bohemians started saying "Well, no one was hurt! and it was an honest expression of joy! So what the heck, huh?"

"What the heck is" that the university police and Baltimore County Hazmat units responded, which puts lives and property in danger as they roll to the scene, not to mention the possibility that someone else in the county would be in need of that crew and their apparatus at the time.

Not to mention that the other students being graduated and their friends and families were there to celebrate, not to have the afternoon turned into a melee. Given the current worldwide fear of mass incidents, it was not out of the realm of possibility that this could have turned into a stampede as people raced for the exits in fear of being poisoned or blown up or caught in a fire.

Word is, the bright student involved tossed a cup of cake mix in the air as a celebration.  That's why I said he takes the cake.

And of course, the university's failure to charge this clown with a crime only opens the door for someone in the class of 2020 to try to top him.

Say it again with me. What the hell is it with some people?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Holidays and salad days, and days of moldy mayonnaise..." - Zappa

How fondly I remember the salad days! (It's clear that I do; I sure talk about them enough!)

The first time I saw the phrase "salad days" was when I was reading "The Godfather," seeking career guidance. There was a reference to a button man in the Corleone mob who looked back on his early days as a legbreaker. Of course, faced with a new term I didn't know, I looked it up and found that "salad days" dates back to Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" (1606). There's a scene in which old Cleopatra says, "...My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood..."

The brilliance of W. Shakespeare is that he mixes the metaphors of being green (inexperienced) with the colors of a salad. And in modern use, the term also refers to people just starting out having to scrimp on food, so they just go with the salad bar. I'm picturing Shakespeare reaching in for some more lettuce and tomatoes and piling bacon bits and bleu cheese dressing on top.

Another fun part of being young and living on your own for the first time is coming up with rent money or salad money or gas money. I remember friends throwing "apartment parties" where we BYOBed and also brought our own Fritos and were offered stuff to buy by the rent-starved hosts: records albums, books, framed posters of Frank Zappa sitting on a toilet ("Phi Zappa Crappa").

And when we were really hard up for burger money, there was always the option of rooting through the sofa cushions for loose change.  Ha ha, you say?  Well, read on...

The Transportation Security Administration plans to use loose change left in trays at airports to partly fund the $232 million that its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, has requested to help pay for border operations if Congress doesn’t agree to its $1.1 billion funding request.

That's a real news story up there. Your federal government is so short on your tax money that they are going into the business of scooping up loose change from airport scanner trays to pay for their security operations. The story goes on to say that there are almost a two dozen agencies within the DHS, and they are all being asked to chip in to pay for border operations because, bleak as things are in this country, things in other countries are even worse, leading people to seek asylum here.

The TSA is just one of almost two dozen agencies under the DHS umbrella, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, that could be forced to dole out millions of dollars from their budgets to pay for the ramped-up operations along the United States’ southern border.

“The Department is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” a DHS spokesperson said. “We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem.”

The things we can look forward to! DHS bake sales at airports! The Army having Used Tank Sales on abandoned corner lots across America! The long-rumored "email stamp" coming to life so it will cost you 55 cents to email a picture of Grumpy Cat to your feline-fancier friends!

A special Ben Carson cookie that, when purchased, comes with a free abandoned house!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Jailhouse Rock

This is just awful! This poor man is 61 years old and is living in New York, cut off from the world at large, his friends, his family, everything. All he can afford right now is a small room with limited television access and not the best of bathing conditions.  Exercise, for him, is whatever he can manage to do in that small room.

It's understandable that he has come down with mental fatigue, sleep deprivation, daily headaches and ear pain. People are not meant to be cooped up in substandard housing like this.

Won't YOU help?

Oh, before you run off to write a check...the man we're speaking of here is Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

He's been in the federal hoosegow for 27 months and he's got the itch to get out and breathe free fresh air again, which is probably why he had his lawyers make requests of U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan the other day: El Chapo wants two hours of outdoor exercise every week, commissary access, permission to buy six bottles of water a week and earplugs.

"This deprivation of sunlight and fresh air, over an excessive 27-month period, is causing psychological scarring,” the attorneys said, claiming that locking this international murderer up is “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

As you'll recall, Guzmán faces multiple life sentences and will be sentenced in federal court next month. The Sinaloa Cartel boss ran one of the world's largest drug trafficking enterprises. And he didn't just sell his drugs. He murdered people right and left (on one occasion, he allegedly shot a rival cartel member and buried the victim alive) so he's not the goofy hippie down the street who sells a little extra Maui Wowie to keep his van running.

And El Chapo escaped from two prisons in Mexico. Poof! Just vanished into thin air, the air he now seeks to breathe from the prison roof where a helicopter might swoop down and take him far away...

“An escape via rooftop, using a helicopter, or any related means would be elementary," the prosecutor wrote in his response to the court.
Courtroom sketch art is the greatest art known to mankind

Guzmán is not permitted to have unmonitored phone calls. He cannot send or receive mail, and as a matter of fact, his attorneys are the only people he can communicate with.

Now THAT'S a punishment!  See ya later, Joaquín.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Celebrate Memorial Day 2019

It's odd to say, "Happy Memorial Day," or to commemorate the day by having a big sale on Nissans, beds or chaises longues.

The fact is, Memorial Day is the holiday set up for remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the United States armed services.

That being said, today isn't the day to salute surviving veterans (that's Veterans' Day) or currently serving soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and women and Coast guard personnel (that's Armed Forces Day).

I think it's important to pay homage to the people who gave up their lives to make sure our lives continue as they have. That's today; that's Memorial Day.
God bless all of them.
Image result for memorial day

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Rerun: Your hypothalamus is trying to talk to you

My doctor was telling me the other day that the reason we People Of A Certain Age cough after meals is because there is neurological confusion between our salivary glands and our mucus glands.  While we chow down, the saliva flows, and then we stop and the mucus glands get the opposite message, and our throats get all tickly, and sure enough, as they say at funerals, here comes the "coughin'."

Image result for operation gameMy doctor is a great guy and thoroughly learned in the medical arts. I am borderline acceptable in most situations, and nowhere near his equal in doctor-type knowledge, of course, although I can hold my own in a game of "Operation." 

have to hold my own; they don't allow someone else to hold your probe.

But there are many other cases in which parts of the body get mixed up; although I did not share all this with Dr D, I can cite countless examples of intra-body confusion.  Such as when someone has their head in totally the wrong area, resulting in a severe case of rectal-cranial inversion.

You see a lot of this being reported lately, and to our shame it is totally a male problem.  They say men have two brains, and the trouble begins when they start doing all their thinking with the smaller one, if you follow.

How many times have you loaded up a plate at a buffet, and then couldn't get all those meatballs and chicken wings down your gullet? A perfect case of your eyes being bigger than your stomach.

People who dance like the south end of a horse heading north often say they have two left feet, but just try buying them shoes.

When we count our body parts, we are often reminded of why The Creator gave us two ears, to listen twice as much as talk.

Image result for annoying groomsWe may never know why our tear ducts begin to flow at weddings, and why we laugh at funerals. I mean, it's understandable in the case of Chuckles the Clown dressed as a peanut and crushed by a rogue elephant, but why the tears at a wedding (unless we know the husband-to-be is a total drip)?

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, May 25, 2019

I like Brad Garrett, the comedian. He's on that situation comedy "Single Parents," and in one scene he told about a restaurant whose salad bar has "ranch dressing as thick as new cement."  You decide what looks better! (I'm a blue cheese dressing guy).
You might think you have a busy day ahead on Monday (or Tuesday) but look how busy this guy is!
There is a veterinarian who has a comfort dog on staff to serve as help to dogs who are staying the night. What a great idea! We have comfort dogs for people; why not comfort dogs for dogs?
American teenagers on a field trip discovering an ancient artifact.  It would be worth the quarter to see how they'd work it.
Talking about comforts for dogs - this is a homemade doghouse with a front porch!
You, there is nothing to know. I just hope he doesn't say, "I wonder why everyone is staring at me."
American TV has always wanted to represent every possible segment of the population, so in the late 1950s, clean-cut all-American lover boy Dobie Gillis (right) had a beatnik for a friend. Maynard G. Krebs ("the G. stands for Walter") eschewed work, regular habits, and trivialized an important movement in literature. But it was cool, man.
Backyard barbecue! Have a good time, and be careful, please!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Arthur! Arthur!

One of the wonderful things about this internet thing is that I have made friends all over the world on it, and trust me, I get questions all the time about Life In These Here United States.

Lately, most of those questions have concerned what's going on down south.

People worldwide are confused, and rightly so, because they read that America is the land of the free and yet they see basic rights being abrogated at the whim of local officials, judges, and people elected to oversee the states and the nation.

Here's the latest example, and if this nonsense from Alabama keeps up, I might have to think about changing my college football allegiance to Slippery Rock State or some such.

Alabama Public Television did not show the season premiere episode of  "Arthur" from PBS because it included a same-sex marriage.

The other 49 states managed to see the May 13 episode without anything falling apart. Imagine the horror in Alabama, where people could not see a show in which Arthur and his friends go to see their teacher Mr. Ratburn marry his partner.

APT preempted the episode, showing a re-run of Arthur in which no one got married.

For those who have never seen the show, Arthur is an aardvark with human qualities, such as the ability to love other people and allow them to love others as they see fit.

Mike Mckenzie does not have that ability. Mckenzie is director of programming at APT and he says that in mid-April he got word about the episode entitled  “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” and decided that the world would fall to rack and ruin if kids down in Sweet Home Alabama saw evidence that the world has continued to evolve.

“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” Mckenzie said in an email. “More importantly (sic) – although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards – parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”

Alabamians with sharp memories for times in the past when APT pretended the antebellum South still existed recalled when the stations pulled an episode of Arthur in 2005, when Buster, a bunny character in Arthur, visited a girl who had two mothers.

Lord have mercy! I have the vapors!

I'm reminded almost daily of the friend of mine who told me that as his children grew up, he would make sure they knew nothing of sex or drugs, and therefore would have no interest in either.

And all the time, we see people who are thoroughly convinced that if they ignore things they don't like, those things will cease to exist, like dodos and winning baseball seasons in Baltimore.

So, friends, both American and wherever, that's the report for today. There are people here who feel they were born special, with the ability to decide who should love whom. The secret is, they were not.

The banned Arthur episode is available online at

Thursday, May 23, 2019

This will bug you

The Top 20 Countdown is in, and my town is #15 with a bullet! Or a stinger.

The list we speak of is the list of the most mosquito-ridden towns in America, to wit:

  1. Atlanta
  2. New York 
  3. Washington, D.C. 
  4. Chicago 
  5. Houston
  6. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas 
  7. Detroit 
  8. Philadelphia 
  9. Charlotte, N.C.
  10. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  11. Phoenix 
  12. Los Angeles 
  13. Boston 
  14. Miami 
  15. Baltimore 
  16. Richmond, Va.
  17. Nashville 
  18. Tampa 
  19. Indianapolis 
  20. St. Louis 

Actual Jersey Mosquito
By listing Philadelphia at #8, the good people at Orkin, who produced this list to remind you to use their services, must be including the South New Jersey area as well, because, as fierce as Baltimore 'skeeters are, the ones in New Jersey are the only ones I have ever seen with their own hangars.

Now and then, someone will say, "What a wonderful world it would be if there were no mosquitoes!"  Come on now, George Bailey, there is room for all of God's critters here on earth.  But mosquito larvae are very important for the ecology of aquatic life, because others bugs and little fish eat them, and then become food for bigger feeders.

So, then. Mosquitoes are here to stay, and there are ways to at least keep them away from your place.

1. Dump out any standing water near your home. Mosquitoes will date, mate, and reproduce in 14 days (faster than Harry and Meghan!) if there is still water in any old container around the yard. So if you have a pond, have a waterfall or fountain put in to keep the water moving around.

2. Keep them outside. Use screens on the windows.

3. Use a mosquito repellent. You pick the brand, but make sure to slather it on your ankles, feet, lower legs and wrists. That's where your skin is thinnest, making you easy pickin's.

4. Wear light-colored clothing outdoors. Colors such as black, navy blue and red stand out to a bug, according to bug eye doctors (as opposed to bugeyed doctors). Also, wear clothing outdoors. You know why.

5. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn. That's when the little anklebiters are hungry for breakfast or dinner. You're safe at lunch; that's when they all go to the buffet.

6. Make yourself less of a target. Don't drink beer or fail to shower - they love the odor you put out when you're belting back the Buds and haven't used your Irish Spring yet. BUT slather on a little Victoria’s Secret Bombshell perfume or Avon’s Skin So Soft Bath Oil, and the bugs will leave you alone for someone who had one beer and zero showers. — a popular mom’s remedy.

Feel free to print this out, and mount it on stiff cardboard, which you can use to swat mosquitoes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Completely biting off the hand that feeds her

If you've seen "Crazy Rich Asians," you know who Constance Wu is - the Asian-American actress who played Rachel Chu, who was hit with lots and lots of surprises when she accompanied her boyfriend from New York to his best friend's wedding in Singapore.

If you watch "Fresh Off The Boat" on television, you know Constance Wu as Jessica Huang, who's anything but the usual sitcom mom. She's married to an Asian-American who takes his family from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to open a Western-themed steakhouse in Orlando.  And I'm sure that all sort of hi-jinx and merry mixups ensue, but I've never seen the show, which was recently renewed for another season on ABC.

So that made Constance happy, right? I mean, another season of guaranteed work and a steady paycheck, probably syndication deal in the offing, fame and fortune, who could ask for more?

Well, Constance could.

She went ape on Twitter a couple of Fridays ago when the renewal was announced. I mean, she was throwing f-bombs like the peanut guy at the ballpark tosses goober peas, bemoaning her fate of having to keep working on a low-prestige TV show when she was all set to play a drug addict who goes on a trip from Iowa to Alaska with her sister to find their mother, in a picture to be called "You And Me Both," if they ever make it.

The next day she apologized and said she was having a bad day, and really is looking forward to a making lots and lots of new episodes of this situation comedy, uh huh.  And her fellow actors must really be looking forward to being back on set with her, now that they know how highly she regards their work together.

Listen, Wu is both extremely attractive and thoroughly talented in acting. "Crazy Rich Asians" required her to show a whole lot of emotions and reactions, and she was convincing all the way.

And yes, we all know that there's a hierarchy in acting, with Broadway at the top, feature films right up there with it, and then it drops down to television.  The guy who used to be Wojo on Barney Miller is now playing an Alzheimer's patient on one of the soap operas (not the one I watch!) and I'll venture to say he is glad to have steady work.

Not to turn this blog into Extra or one of those shows, but just yesterday we talked about a comedian who blew chance after chance by blowing drugs up his nose, and here we have a woman whose career has hit a milestone - a sixth season on a hit show - that many other people would give their right loafer to have. Wu was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world last year, so she is making a name for herself, but she shouldn't alienate the people who are walking with her down this hall as she tries to get upstairs, so to speak.

Like she's ever going to read this and then say, "hey, great idea!" But when did that ever stop me?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Mighty Have Fallen

He was on MAD TV, he co-starred a movie with Norm MacDonald, he played a lead role in Norm's TV show "Norm," he starred in his own movie "Beer League," he was a performer and writer on Howard Stern's radio show, he's written two autobiographies ("Too Fat To Fish" and "Crash And Burn") and he did standup comedy for years.

Now he's doing standup at the Exxon on Route 31 in Clinton Township, New Jersey through May 26.

You know whom I'm talking about here.  It's Artie Lange, as raucous and funny a man as ever breathed, and now his drug addiction has taken him to the point of pumping petrol in New Jersey (the one state I know of where there's no self-service at the pumps.)  So pull in to that Exxon and you might hear some of his classics.
On the job now

Mugshot from the old days

New Jersey 101.5 radio reports on their website that Artie has this job through the auspices of a halfway house in Glen Gardner, NJ, and he told someone who went to see him squeezing the go juice that he has 111 days sober now and is losing weight.

He told that visitor that Stern gave him chance after chance to get straight, to take as much time as he needed for rehab, but he refused the help, admires Stern for the offer and the support, and plans to return to show business in a few weeks.

I'm a huge fan of Artie and wish him well. Anyone who can hang with comedy biggies like Howard and Norm has a great talent, and I'm hoping Artie will make the most of this one last chance.

I just don't think I understand how some with great talent and the confidence to excel in his chosen area can, at the same time, say, "Yeah, cocaine. That's the ticket for me."  It's not like he hasn't heard the warnings...but everyone thinks they'll be the one to beat the odds.

They won't.

Monday, May 20, 2019


Do you ever wonder, when you hear about these nutty schemes that people come up with, what people were thinking, or drinking, or whatever, when they came up with the ideas?

"Jed? I got it! We'll fix up a chain to the back bumper of your pickup and wrap the other end of it around that ATM thing down at the bowling alley, and pull it out of the wall? We'll live like kings, soon's we count all the money!"


"Don't worry, kids! We'll get you into USC! It's just a matter of knowing the right people!"


"Here's what we do, honey! I'll just get a uniform and pretend to be a deputy sheriff and walk you right on out of this jail!"

Well, all three of these plans have been tried and found lacking now. Say hello to Maxine Feldstein and her boyfriend, Nicholas Lowe.

Handsome, well-groomed, smiling Nick was cooling his heels in jail in Washington County, Arkansas, when his main squeeze Maxine posed as deputy "L. Kershaw," with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office, and handed over forged documents to trick real deputies at the jail into freeing him.

They don't mess around down there! Max entered a guilty plea to several charges, including criminal impersonation, and was handed a term of 30 years in prison, with half her sentence suspended.

Nick apparently found time to steal away from grooming his eyebrows to tell Max she should use a story involving jail overcrowding and low-priority extraditions being suspended to sell the story. 

And so it wasn't until a real Ventura County deputy called to say he was enroute to give Nick a ride back to the jail where he belonged that alert Washington County deputies realized they had been hornswoggled, which is a felony down there.

It took a month to find the happy twosome and bring them both to justice.

And what crime was Lowe guilty of in the first place?

Criminal impersonation!

Maybe these two need to go back and find another line of work. Impersonations should be left to professionals like Frank Caliendo.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Rerun: Read this to the very end and I promise you'll pheel like laffing

In the tony Georgetown section of Washington D.C., a bank teller whom we'll identify for now as "Mr Davis" has pleaded guilty to a 
federal felony count that could see him counted among the felons in a federal prison. 

Davis is 29 and might be significantly older by the time he sees good food again. And to think, it all began when a homeless guy walked into his bank branch with more than $185,000 in cash.  

Which was in a trash bag.

The man was a street vendor, known by many in the neighborhood where the Wells Fargo branch was located.  He wanted to deposit the money, which was his right, since it was his.

Image result for phelon davisDavis had other plans, and he opened a new (but fraudulent) account by faking the man's signature. Then, he set up an ATM card with a PIN number and everything.

And he set up an email account so he could log on to online banking as the homeless guy. Davis then reactivated a long-dormant account that the man opened years ago, and siphoned $3,000 from that account to open the new one.

The court filings do not specify whether or not Davis got a free set of steak knives or highball glasses for opening the new account.

No one seems to know how the homeless man came to possess almost a fifth of a million dollars, but that is none of the business of the bank anyway. When reporters covering the case asked Davis's attorney about the provenance of the small fortune, the mouthpiece, Bruce Allen Johnson Jr., said, "That’s the million-dollar question." 

Slight exaggeration, but perhaps he was adding in his fees.

Anyhow, Davis did all this chicanery in 2014, and the court papers say that over the next two years, he transferred $177,400 between the customer’s accounts, withdrew $185,440, made himself a federal criminal by crossing the line from DC into Maryland to squeeze money out of the guy's accounts at suburban ATMs.

Davis used the loot to treat himself to a down payment on a new house, clear up old debts, and send himself on gala vacations to  Aruba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

So, having copped a plea, Davis has agreed to pay the money back and will likely do 18-30 months in Federal PMITA Prison.

Johnson The Attorney told reporters that Davis "greatly regrets the decisions he made and is dedicated to doing everything he can to make it right, including restitution. He is putting everything aside to repay the money and do what he can to repair what he’s done to his name, his reputation and to the victim."

That little sincere speech would be my favorite part of this whole deal, except for the fact that Davis's first name is Phelon. 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, May 18, 2019

Once again, the USA leads the world in clever trompe l'oeil paintings. This is a method of fooling people invented some time ago by Donald Trompe.
Nature will always, always find a way. My dad used to tell me that one could grow forsythia on a school parking lot if one wanted to, but who wants a trampled forsythia?
Once again, we revisit our series of Pictures Taken Inside Of Things.  This is how it looks to be inside an air mattress.
It always looks artistic in movies and television and magazine commercials when the roads and sidewalks are wet...not so much as to cause flooding, though. What's wrong with a dry road, anyway?
This concept originated in Europe and I understand that they are making inroads into the American movie theater scene. Yessiree Bob, that's a double bed where you and your closest inamorata can snuggle up and watch Will Smith in "Aladdin."  And if that ain't living, I don't know what.
It's a shame that this fellow went out to clean up his lake, and a triple shame that he needed 5 trashbags to do so.  What are people thinking?
I've never seen a rose like this one, two crisp colors. It's called the Osiria Rose. Someone you love would love to have a dozen of them right now.
There used to be a Burger Chef not too far from us, over on Joppa Rd where Don's Crabs is now. I think Burger King did them in. Or maybe it was these uniforms, as seen here in 1975.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Oh, Archie!

We may not have kids of our own, but we fully appreciate what a lot of work it is to be parents.  Many people are very surprised to find that the child they proudly brought home from Maternityville will not be able to make himself a sandwich, pay a bill, or clean up her own room until their late 20s.  If then!

So it might come as a surprise to American Royal Watchers that the newest of royal parents, Prince Opie Harry and his lovely wife Meghan Markle have not hired a nanny to care for little screamin' Archie.

Now, it must be remembered that the royal family over in jolly Olde Englande has every kind of help available 24-7, so it's really not like Reds 'n' Meg are really truly going it alone.

At first, the news from London told us that they were hoping to hire an American nanny, but when Fran Drescher was busy doing other things, they planned to go with what they call a "scaled down team."  That means no nanny, but her mother, Doria Ragland, is on the job.  She came over from her home in sunny Los Angeles to be there for the birth, and is hanging around for the diaper changes and burping.  And from all reports, her help has been indispensable.

Har and Meggie, A/K/A the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, said all along they intend to be hand-on parents, and observers say this is a tradition they got from his mom, the late Princess Diana, who was said to bring a sense of normality to bringin' up Brits.
Image result for harry meghan archie
Why, they even report that Prince William (his brother) and his wife Kate Middleton even have dinner with their children! And go bug-hunting, and other family fun.

Royal Biographer Duncan Larcombe of the Daily Mail says, “Diana made sure William and Harry lived as much as a normal life as possible and as parents, William and Harry will always be influenced by their mother. Her desire to give them a taste of normality runs through the veins of William and Harry.”

So yes, it's laudable that these two youngsters in love want to be in there for every step of the way, as opposed to lots of upper crust types who are crummy parents.  It's not like they live in a cottage small by a waterfall, and she's not out there doing the laundry on rocks, but it's closer to normal than most.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Judgement Daze

Heather Cook, drunken disgrace to the clergy she represented and to the public she once vowed to serve, was released from prison the other day. She was sentenced to seven years, a very light sentence to begin with, and served just over half of it.

She killed a man named Tom Palermo, who was riding a bike in Roland Park two days after Christmas, 2014.  She was three times drunk and texting at the time. She left the scene without stopping to see how the man was doing as he lay mortally injured.

But I'm not here to talk about that anymore.  We subscribe to a justice system which is not perfect, in a world that isn't either.  It's like Yogi Berra once said: "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be."

And who can argue with that?

No, my point is with all those who took to Facebook, Twitter, the local coffee shop and the water cooler at the office to talk it over. Specifically, I wish to address those of you who said, "She deserved a second chance."

OK. She got her second chance. In 2010, she was caught for several crimes, including possession of marijuana and DUI. This occurred on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in Caroline County, where police pulled the bishop over for a traffic stop.

The probable causes for the stop included erratic driving and driving on a wheel. One of her tires shredded but on and on she drove with her booze and her pot.  For her sins, she received probation before judgment and a $300 fine from a judge who probably thought she deserved a break.

OK then, she was on her second chance when she killed Palermo and left his wife a widow and his children fatherless.  Here comes the point I always love to hear:

"Who are we to judge?"

Image result for heather cookI see people saying this and I wonder if they would say so if they were the people left bereft by this horrible excuse for a woman, who killed and fled, and only wept for the loss of her own freedom.

I wonder if they would say that if they were robbed and beaten on the street, if they were served deliberately adulterated food in a restaurant, if their child were kidnapped and tortured.

Viewed in a vacuum, sure, let's love everyone and give them unlimited chances. But when the crimes come home and the criminals are taking away your loved ones, you're less likely to say "who are we to judge?"

Cook is saying that she doesn't know what's next on her path, but said she had faith that "God doesn't waste anything."

If she means that, she will find a way to try to replace what she wasted.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


I just heard that John Cougar Mellencamp O'Hoolahan has a daughter who is an "accountability coach and fitness influencer."

She's Teddi Jo Mellencamp, and she is also a cast member of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and outside of doing the hog price reports on some farm channel, I can't think of anything worse on television.

But let's take a look at how she is spending her time. An "accountability coach" must be someone who hollers at you for eating a hot fudge sundae and tipping the scales a bit more than you did last week.  This is all in the realm of "motivational speaking," sort of like Tony Robbins, whose mantra is, "Where would you rather be than right here, right now?"

Where else COULD you be than where you are right now? I mean, unless you have the power to transmogrify, you're here til you're not.

Fitness influencer?  This whole "influencer" business is fairly recent around here. Be honest: until her mother, Lori Loughlin, got in the cauldron of trouble for bribing people to admit a daughter (who did not want to attend college) to college, we didn't know that the woman who plays Aunt Becky, and the same person over and over on Hallmark movies, had a daughter who rakes in millions for making videos of herself parading around in the latest duds.
Image result for garish t shirt
And then, let's say you make a certain kind of  garish shirt.  All you need to do is wait for a "fashion influencer" to wear your shirt and tell the world on You Tube what brand of gaudy shirt you're sporting, and then sit back and watch the orders (and money) roll in.

I took plenty of aptitude tests in my day, as guidance counselor after guidance counselor sought to talk me into a career path that did not involve sitting in a small room, playing Conway Twitty records.

If only I had heard of accountability coaches and influencers, I would have had it made!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Just something we say

There are verbal solutions that we all fall back on.  A lot of people end almost every sentence with "you know what I'm saying?" or some variation thereof. 

You will find that if you answer them ("Yes, I do!") they are as surprised as the guy who lit a match to see how much he had left in the gas tank.

There's a new one going around. I think it was first popularized by Donnie Wahlberg in his sensitive portrayal of NYPD detective Danny "Danny" Reagan, who spices up his accusatory speech with "not for nothing."

As in:

"Not for nothing, but why were you carrying a two-foot sword on the subway?"

Image result for danny reagan

"Not for nothing, but I think you're guilty as hell."

(No one is ever innocent as hell, you know? Not for nothing)

Wahlberg said it a lot, and now I am seeing others do the same.  Just the way everyone on cable news answers a question now by starting with the word "So..." That replaced "Basically...."

There is a debate among linguists (and these become high-pitched, I assure you) as to whether "nfn" is a literal phrase or an idiomatic phrase.

I think it's both.

In the literal sense, here's an example: "Not for nothing, he had thought to pack jumper cables in his trunk, knowing his battery was unreliable."

And the idiomatic (slangy or trendy) sense: "I think you need to stop and buy me a hamburger. I'd appreciate it, not for nothing."

Idiomatically, it's just something to say to fill up space while waiting for your hamburger.  Gotta run, see you tomorrow, not for nothing.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Back in business!

It's been a while since I blogulated, so I am easing back into it. I know that sounds like I'm coming back from 5-way bypass surgery or a bad case of nepotism, but in fact, all I'm doing is learning to deal with a brand-new computer and finding where everything is on it.

But slowly but surely, it's coming along. It turns out, you can teach an old dog new tricks, but he has to be housebroken, and willing.  And I am at least one of them.

I also treated myself to a new desk chair the other night while traipsing around IKEA.  If you don't have an IKEA around you, you really ought to move to where there is one. (If you're outside the USA, there are IKEAs all over the world, which is good, because the official US of A gov't stance is that we are full. Or something.

You veterans IKEAns know about how they work.  You parade around a huge store - so big that you might burn off your whole supper, and need to stop for another one. It's all right. They have a cafe and you can fill up on Swedish meatballs and veggies and salad and soup and cornbread before wading back out into the aisles. When you find the chair (or table or tv stand or bed or I don't know what-all else) you want, you take a picture of where to report>>> in the vast storage area to claim your whatever, then you do so, pay for it and schlep it home for assembly.

I have to tell you something that amazed me about the chair. IKEA furniture comes with a wordless instruction manual - pictures only tell the story of what gerschklugen goes where.  They even give you an Allen wrench to assemble it, and a bit to go in your VSR drill if you wish to be fast.

But as I finished putting the chair together, I said, it would be nice to have somewhere to stash this Allen wrench, just in case I need to tighten something up someday.  (Insert joke here.)

The last pictograph shows that they had the amazing idea to put a zipper on the seatback, and inside there is a little slot to hold the wrench. >>>

Ready to roll me around

Now, you tell me. What's Swedish for "amazing"?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Rerun: Roil Fashion

I'm the last guy whose fashion advice you'd want to take, having dressed more or less the same since Eisenhower was president, and having never been invited to participate in any of the hoopla involving the British royal family.

And I know we step on sticky wickets, or wicky stickets, when we Americans marry into that family. In fact, for years, it just wasn't done. You will recall that in 1936, Edward, Prince of Wales and the next in line to climb onto the throne, gave it all up, abdicating because the British found out he was marrying one of the Simpsons.

All right, not one of THOSE Simpsons, but a twice-divorced woman named Wallis Simpson (born Bessie Wallis Warfield). The fact that she was from Baltimore also rubbed against the Royals, since their navy had been received so unpleasantly at Baltimore's Ft. McHenry in 1814.

Image result for meghan markle howie mandel
Meghan was a briefcase girl

David Spade was heard to say that we really have the English fooled because "they seem to think that Meghan Markle is some sort of big star over here."  Truth to tell, no one here except for rabid viewers of Hallmark Movies, or "Deal Or No Deal," where she opened briefcases, even knew who she was.

She seems like a nice woman and from what I can tell she loves Mr Prince Harry and is fitting well in her new role as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.  I wish her all the best.

And speaking of fitting well, she certainly has a nice wardrobe now, and yet, here she is, married three weeks, and she goes in a horse carriage to the annual Trooping the Colour Ceremony in London over the weekend, and the howling began before anyone got a chance to clean up behind the horses.

The Queen's birthday is in April, but they celebrate it in June, when the weather is better, along with a 250-year-old tradition of military troops showing off their flags while marching around the Buckingham Palace square. To view all this grandeur, old Meg showed up in an off the shoulder, sleeveless dress, and wouldn't you know, the Fashion Police about lost their shift, crying on Twitter that her duds where “inappropriate” for Queen Elizabeth’s annual birthday parade.
From left, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall,Kate Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, in central London, following the Trooping the Colour ceremony on Saturday, June 9, 2018. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Pictured here (from left) are Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Kate Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

I would have thought that the real commotion would have stemmed from the fact that she wore the same pink hat she wore on her first royal engagement a couple of weeks ago.  But since I have been wearing the same Orioles cap since the Orioles were good, I can't call her out at the plate for that.

The Twitterverse went right wild right away, with people getting their fingers busy, a-typin' about Meghan's royal shoulders.  Apparently, it's some sort of rule not to have one's shoulders hanging out of one's dress when one's 92-year-old grandma-in-law is afoot.

Here's my plan for all those offended by the sight of a lovely young lady's nekkid shoulders: Come walk any American mall, grocery store or college campus.

Just start walking and don't come back! Leave the woman alone.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Picture Show Rerun, May 11, 2019

 In early 1967, The Beatles gathered to have pictures taken for the "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.  In the pre-photoshop, pre-computer generated image era, if you wanted to pose with a group of famous people, this is how you did it.  The flashy blonde in front of the palm tree is the English actress Diana Dors, who was once married to Richard Dawson.  I like this picture because it shows my two favorite Beatles being themselves.
 There's no ducking the fact that a picture like this will cure you of any mallard-y.
 There is a name for this entire school of art.  I'm doggoned if I can think of it, but it's interesting.  Another cool thing it to take a picture of whatever is right behind your monitor and then use that as your wallpaper.
 I looked behind my monitor in hopes of recreating this illusion, but there is a modem, two speakers, and a flash drive, all of which have been seen over and over.
 The caption that went with this picture said, "I moved to Montana for work and now this is my commute."  Hard to compete with that!
This is a golden monkey, made in Panama between the 9th and 15 centuries.  The monkey is holding his tail.  This is probably priced beyond the means of most Americans, but really, who would not treasure this elegant addition to their home decor?
There is evidence that Bill Murray simply lives in order to pose with every single living American.  Because he means so much to me, I will now share the explanation for his T-shirt for those few among us who have not memorized all the dialogue from "Caddyshack."
" A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

Friday, May 10, 2019

Rerun: Monday musings from 2014 on a Friday

I have the following questions.

1.  Why do people on TV - actors, newscasters, singers, 
What was so horrible about his old face?
people of difficult classification such as Bruce Jenner - submit to plastic surgery?  I'm thinking about a woman I see now and then on a certain network, a lovely woman, well-educated, well-spoken, very personable.  I saw her the other morning and it was clear that in the name of looking younger, or unwrinkled, or whatever, she had been under the knife, and the results were not flattering.  In fact, they were scary results. Now, I'm nothing to look at, and no one beat a path to my door asking me to be on TV, but I just can't figure the appeal of taking the risk of having someone rearrange your face into a ghoulish leer.  And TV folks: we home viewers don't mind if you have a wrinkle or a zit or some crow's feet around the eyes. We just get a little unnerved when it looks like, if you cry, the tears will run down your back.

2.  Why would someone leave a bottle of wine at a gravesite, presumably to be enjoyed by the deceased?  Why bring plush animal toys to the scene of disasters?  I was thinking about this, because we saw both of these things yesterday when we drove to the cemeteries to visit our dads. If you want to give someone you love a bottle of wine, the time to do that is right now! If you know a child who would enjoy a large velour sea serpent toy, why wait? Give it to him/her now!  You know the Chinese answer for the question of when is the best time to plant a tree...20 years ago.  Second best time, today. Tomorrow is not a good answer.

3.  How come so many people are sure Sure SURE about what's going to happen to all of us when our time at this giant pinball game we call Life comes to an end.  I mean, I am in line with the Judeo-Christian tradition of planning to go to heaven, where many, many people will be surprised to see me hanging outside the pearly gates, waiting for the chance to sell seat cushions to new arrivals. But so many people will promise you they know EXACTLY what is going to happen when we have crossed that bar, and will tell you of near-death experiences that have led luminaries appearing on cable TV to know there is a very bright light or a long escalator or a cloud with an angel harpist or a cosmic boom that will transport us just beyond the moon.  

4. If French people ask for toast, do they get French toast?  Same with English muffins, Canadian bacon, Spanish omelets, American cheese. 

5.  Why is the person who is such a consarned hurry to pull out on you from a side street also a person who dares not make his "driving machine" go more than 25 miles an hour?  And why are there people, vast legions of them, who keep cars locked up in garages and only come out to drive when it rains or snows?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rerun: they used to call it "necking"

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

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

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

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

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

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