Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, August 31, 2019

Living proof of the old expression "They're so cute when they're little!" This is a baby warthog at the peak of his/her cuteness.
Art like this is always a pleasure to see. It took great vision and a lot of work to see this wooden lion through.
This is heaven on the table for Baltimore. Steamed crabs and steamed shrimp. The trick is to save the corn until you've got crabs spices and whatnot all over the tablecloth (which is either wrapping paper or newspaper) and then you wipe the corn through all the mess to season it.
Still unexplained is the reason behind this gas explosion at an office/retail complex in Columbia, MD last Sunday. How fortunate that it occurred on a Sunday, without the offices and stores being full of people.
I always liked the Archie comics when I was a kid. I favored the minor characters such as Jughead Jones (I knew a guy who totally looked like him!), Reggie Mantle, Miss Grundy and Ms Weatherbee. I understand that these folks suffered the sad fate of winding up in a vaguely sci-fi sort of show in their later years. I remember Mr Lodge, Veronica's father, always wearing a silk ascot and a velvet smoking jacket. He said "Harrumph" all the time.
The guy in the red sunnies is Ryan Dorsey, a Baltimore City councilman. He is seen here on the subway in Tokyo, where he ran into a German tourist wearing the world-famous Baltimore Orioles cap. Dorsey said, "How bout them O's?" (the universal greeting) and the German said he had no idea who the O's are, but he liked the "duck" on the cap!
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, there dwells an artist who brings new life to dull old street lights with colored chalk. Very nice work!
We bibliophiles secretly still miss the reassuring thump of the due-date stamp on a library book. Yes, it's all computerized now, but I miss the purple ink.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Wooden Shoe love to be able to do this

Who hasn't walked into a Payless shoe store and wanted to buy everything in the place???

(I haven't; they didn't carry Rockports, but anyway.)

Down in Arkansas this summer, as the Payless chain, having pulled out the stopper, was letting everything run down the drain, in walked Carrie Jerrigan to see about some closeout deals for herself and her family.

Her daughter found a pair of really cool Avengers shoes, but the little girl told Carrie they weren't for her...

"She has the biggest heart, and she said, 'There is a boy in my class that loves Avengers and his shoes are too small, could you buy him these?' And I was like, 'of course,'" Jerrigan told Fort Smith, Arkansas, station KFSM-TV.

Somewhere between that moment in the aisle and the time Ms Jerrigan got to the register, she had an idea. Since the store was closing, how much would they want for the entire stock?  Everything must go, right? Let it all go at once!

"I could see the clerk's face, her wheels start to turn. And she finished checking me out and said, 'Can I have your number?'" she recalls. And when she was home later on, the Payless district manager called her up.

He said sure, she could buy out the store BUT they had just gotten in a whole new shipment of shoes, so the inventory - and the price - was going up.

She had planned to pay for 200 to 300 pairs of shoes, but she had to Paymore at Payless (sorry, I had to say it) because there were almost 1500 pairs of shoes on hand (!) by the time she got back, checkbook in hand.

"The next thing you know, we are trying to figure out how to get almost 1,500 shoes home with us that day," she said.

Somehow, they got all those shoes home, and filled their house with shoe boxes. 

Earlier this month, she gave all the shoes away to kids at the Alma Middle School. And the Jerrigan family also teamed up with the Kibler Baptist Church to give out school supplies.

Mrs Jerrigan is just happy that she had this opportunity to instill the spirit of generosity in her children.

"If you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, they say be kind. And so, I don't care what they do in life as long as they are kind and good people," she said. "It just reiterates to me that their hearts are in the right place. And if it's in the right place, they can do amazing things."

People love to quote from the Bible, so here's one to work into a conversation:
"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required"
Luke 12:48

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Pop goes the culture

I guess by now you've heard about the brouhaha about Lara Spencer, the "Good Morning America" host and morning doyenne of the odd subculture of current events known by those who care which Jonas Brother married whom as "pop news."

Last Friday, she was snarking her way through a story about a six-year-old, namely Prince George, the eldest child of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  The kid is about to start school and has indicated an interest in ballet.

“Prince William says George ab-so-lutely loves ballet. I have news for you, Prince William: We’ll see how long that lasts,” she jeered.

The good thing is, Prince William does not take his news from "GMA."

The other good news is that sentient people took notice of her appalling insensitivity.

So over the weekend she wised up and bravely faced the world on Monday with these heartfelt words:

“I screwed up," she said, going on to add her comments were “insensitive and stupid, and I am deeply sorry.”

She brought out three male dancers who told tales of pursuing their dreams, only to have scorn and derision piled on them by thoughtless schoolmates and television presenters, and added, “I have learned about the bravery it takes for a young man to pursue a career in dance.”

“The lesson is that words hurt,” Spencer said, coming off the worst weekend of her life, “and it was not my intention but it was insensitive.”

Most people, while welcoming the apology, thought too much harm was already done.

Peter Stark, a former New York City Ballet dancer and associate director of the Boston Ballet II said, “I would like to believe that Lara Spencer didn’t mean to do harm, but she did great harm. She gave permission for individuals to laugh at boys doing ballet.” Stark pointed out that even his math teacher gave him a hard way to go for studying ballet.

Here I was, thinking that people were way past the point of judging like this. DO people really think that boys deserve to be shamed for wanting to be ballerinos? And more to the point, is a six-year-old not entitled to explore all facets of the world around him or her?

I understand that Spencer is a lightweight in her field. She is not the person ABC would want on the desk in case World War III breaks out, and has found her comfort level talking about banalities in an inane fashion.  (Yes, I know, she is well paid for doing so).

Very very serious apology face.
Spencer is the mother of two teenagers, a boy and a girl.  If this is the sort of attitude she espouses around the house, I can only hope that the kids learn better elsewhere.

And one more thing: Spencer tweeted this: “From ballet to anything one wants to explore in life, I say GO FOR IT. I fully believe we should all be free to pursue our passions.”

There it is. The fully-realized modern apology, complete with a clarification so that we know that the hurtful things said the other day were not really what was in her heart. She doesn't know where that came from!  Look here, it says I fully believe she should all be free to blah blah blah.

Maybe someday I'll rob a bank and then offer this in mitigation: "I fully believe banks should not be robbed." 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

No Luck at all

"I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. It's taken the joy out of this game. The only way forward for me is to remove myself from football. This is not an easy decision. It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."

Those are the words of former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who decided that there was a whole world out there for a young man with a family and enough money so they won't have to clip coupons, so why spend another year getting his brains beat out playing football?

Actually, his brains might be the only thing truly intact on this young man after all the battering he took in a Colts' uniform on a team that was known for having an offensive live that afforded him about as much protection as the Maginot Line. His injuries since turning pro include a sprained shoulder in September, 2015, a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle in November of that year,  torn cartilage from sometime in the '15 season which was reported in January of 2016, a concussion in November, 2016, shoulder surgery in January, 2017, which caused him to miss that entire season, and finally, a calf strain suffered this spring which has kept him from training and practicing.

When the word broke on Saturday night, as the Colts played a meaningless exhibition game and Luck stood uninvolved on the sideline, fans in the Indianapolis crowd began to boo. 

Perhaps they were booing the fact that fate had them spending at least one night in a drab Midwestern town, or perhaps they felt that Luck had not given them their money's worth as fans, and possibly should suit up for the opening game against the Chargers on September 8 and take the chance of losing a limb or the ability to walk unassisted.

Sure, they are jealous of the money he's made, and the money ($122 million remaining on his contract) from which he is walking away, but I quite certain that if any of those fans had received anything near the sort of on-the-job injuries that Luck got while they were working at FotoMat or Earl's Transmission or teaching high school geometry, they would love to be set for life and not have to worry about BOGO deals on Cheese Whoppers to feed their family. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

First time for everything

It was bound to happen. I mean, with everyone talking about moving to Mars ("of which the moon is a part") there is bound to be the first fulltime settler on Mars, the first marriage on Mars, the first baby born a Martian, and the first crime on Mars.

We're getting close to that last one. We appear to have documentation of the first crime committed in space, with the charge that a NASA astronaut found time while performing her duties on the International Space Station to break into her ex-spouse's bank statements.

Anne McClain, 40, is a lieutenant colonel in the US Army and an astronaut: to wit, Flight Engineer for Expedition 58/59 to the ISS.

She is knee deep, or even higher, in a divorce battle with former wife Summer Worden.

Worden noticed that someone had been rummaging through her bank accounts, and when she asked the bank to see who gained access, she was told someone got  her information using a NASA computer network.  A little more checking, and Worden was able to go to the authorities and make the claim that her ex had violated the law while soaring 254 miles above us.

Worden told KPRC News in Houston that USAA Bank showed her lawyers when and how the accounts were breached. “I was shocked and appalled at the audacity by her to think that she could get away with that, and I was very disheartened that I couldn't keep anything private,” she said.

So Worden complained to the Federal Trade Commission and a family member made a formal complaint with NASA’s internal Office of the Inspector General, accusing McClain of identity theft and improper access to Worden’s financials.

McClain's lawyer says the two women still have intertwined financial interests and McClain was merely making sure all was still copacetic.

McClain was scheduled along with Christina Koch to conduct the first all-female spacewalk ever, but was pulled from that mission and replaced by Nick Hague in a move that NASA said was McClain's decision, as there were not enough space suits in her and Koch's sizes.

Other than to confirm that McClain is still an active astronaut, NASA, unused to being involved in romantic collapses, has no further comment.

I've always found it best to stay out of family quarrels, myself.

Monday, August 26, 2019

A little Love for a legend

It's hard for me to be objective about this story. Any of the artists whose records were produced by Phil Spector back in the day should be accorded the highest respect, because they made some of the greatest records of all time.

The fact that Phil Spector was a complete schnook and, later, a convicted murderer, stains his reputation, but just listening to the music he made with people such as Darlene Love, The Ronettes, The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans and many others takes me to a world of musical bliss.  Just listen to songs like "He's A Rebel" and "Today I Met The Boy I'm Gonna Marry" and see what I mean, in case you don't go back that far.

Darlene Love today is 78 and known for these great songs from the early 60s,  for being on David Letterman's Christmas show every year to sing her holiday classic from Spector's multi-artist "Christmas Gift To You" album, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," and for acting in movies such as the Lethal Weapon series (she was Roger's wife).

So, knowing all this, you understand that Darlene Love didn't just come rolling in here on a head of cabbage. She is a beloved, respected show business veteran, and of course, if you were the capitalists who run the New York Stock Exchange, you would be honored to have her sing that holiday tune at your tree-lighting ceremony this year.

And somehow you would expect her to do it for free. And drive herself on down to Wall Street for the honor of playing for a room full of Uncle Scrooge McDucks.

Darlene is right to say she feels disrespected by the NYSE. She agreed to sing for free, but requested a ride to the event because she lives an hour away in Rockland County, NY.

The New York POST reported "the marketing director said they’re not allowed to compensate talent for performance, travel, hotel, [but that they] may be able to get an exception for $500 to cover a portion of her car.” The paper went on to say that they “said she should do it for exposure.”

Love told the paper, “At this stage of my career, I don’t need any more exposure — just respect.” She added, “My time and value is worth more than $500 to hang out at the NYSE for seven hours for free with a bunch of millionaire stock brokers. They can at least cover my travel expenses. This is insulting!"

I know this is the oldest dodge in the world: expecting musicians and other performers to come and do what they have trained and practiced to do for years (in Love's case, for decades!) so that they can get "exposure."  Well, guess what, you greedy slimeballs! Exposure does not pay the electric bill, does not put food on the table or gas in the car.

People always tell me I should have more respect for the men and women who spend their days trying to squeeze another nickel out of other people. It's never going to happen, and I hope that these loudmouth vulgarian galoots either pay up or have to wind up having Iggy Azalea at their show.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Rerun: In Russia, they call it One Steppe Beyond

I'm writing this on Saturday night, and tomorrow, I will be awakened by the sound of Madness.

And not the kind you think!  This is the 80's British group Madness and their great hit "One Step Beyond" which you can see by clicking the words above!

Madness (l)  was one of those groups of guys running around doing all sorts of goofy senseless things and making music at the same time: sort of like the Republican Party with saxophones!  Their music was defined as "pop/ska," which I understand half of.  Ska, so they say, was a precursor to reggae.  It's all that Caribbean sound to me. I am not musically sophisticated enough to be able to say, "Oh, that's ska!" or "Love that cha-cha sound" or "You've got to know, that's good reggae!"  So I don't know Bob Marley from Jacob Marley; I'm happy with what I hear.

But I like to be thorough, so I looked up Madness and found they were influenced by a guy born Cecil Bustamente Campbell, but better known to his legions of fans in his native Jamaica and all across the British Empire as "Prince Buster."(r)  Buster is highly regarded by Madness; they call him "The man who set the beat." (In the days when I was so good at fixing a balky TV by smacking it with my open palm, I was known as "The man who beat the set," but that has nothing to do with anything here.)  Here is Buster's version of One Step Beyond; check it out and see what you think.

Which version do you want me to wake up to on Monday?  Vote early, and often.  If you don't want me to awaken at all on Monday, please don't vote. Harrumph.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, August 24, 2019

 An early 50s magazine cover shows a travel agent with her office all decked out with posters for places I would never go. I'd rather look at the back yards of all those apartments in winter.
 "OK Kids, let's have fun!" Go all around the beach and see what rocks you can find while I take a nap, and then you can arrange them! Sound like fun? Be back in two hours!"
 It's hard to get rid of old electronics. This is a guy in Northern Virginia who made a cap, as it were, out of an old monitor, and every night he was going around leaving old TVs and monitors and PC towers on porches in NoVa. We don't know why.
 If you shuddered at first and went, "Ewwwww gross!" come back in the room now, unless you can't stand to see a turtle enjoy a berry.
 This is out west somewhere, and it makes me want to saddle up and ride, or maybe take a nap. I'm all over the place today.
 This is an old mill that's been shut down since the 1830s. 1830s. The vegetation that overtook it is impressive, but don't you think SOMEone would have wanted this building for some other purpose in the last 184 years?
 I love seeing old signs painted directly on old brick walls. You don't see this sort of artistry anymore.
This is a map of the world breaking down all its nations into two categories: green, where people are obligated to remove their shoes when entering a home, and blue, where you can just parade right on into the parlor with your clodhoppers on, no problem. For the information of one "D.T. from D.C.," Greenland is in blue.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Forget Hansel and Gretel

I grew up (so to speak) in the days before helicopter parenting became the rage. My parents had the nutty notion that I was a human being and could figure things out.  This background gets me in a passel of trouble when the talk turns to kids today, especially when I hear parents say they won't let little Abercrombie or Hildegarde ride the school bus with those awful kids from "THAT neighborhood," or walk anywhere without a ride and a backup ride and air support.

But that's for another day. Today, I wish to shock the helicopter out of you by telling you what they do in the Netherlands.

The unfailing New York Times had an article about a summer tradition among the Dutch. They call it "dropping."  Here's what it entails, and please make sure you're sitting down when you read that Dutch pre-teens, out in summer camps, are dropped off in the woods at night and told to find their way back to camp. Just to make it more like real life, some parents will blindfold the kids on the ride to the new destination.

Pia de Jong is a novelist currently living in New Jersey, but she was born and raised in Amsterdam, and she reports that, "You just drop your kids into the world. Of course, you make sure they don't die, but other than that, they have to find their own way."

And no, the kids don't get to take their phones and find their way back with GPS. They do wear hi-vis vests and have maps and compasses, and a team leader has a cell phone just in case.

And in a few hours, they're back, and they have gained independence, confidence in their ability to live on their own, and some teamwork experience as well.

A woman named Lara wrote this to the Times; she was an exchange student in the Netherlands in the 1980s and participated along with her host's family:

"His parents blindfolded us and then dropped us off in groups of 3 or 4, several miles from their house. Maybe we had some sort of map — definitely no GPS — and we walked through farm land, country roads and some wooded areas in random patterns until things eventually started to look a bit familiar, and somehow found our way home. Each group made it back within a few hours. It was a really fun adventure and a nice little group competition and team bonding experience. At the time I took this to be a creative party game my friend's parents contrived for us; how fun to know it was a beloved Dutch tradition!"

Other commenters pointed out that Dutch "woods" are really just very large parks, so it's not like being in the Great Dismal Swamp with the Jersey Devil at your heels, to mix some similes.

Others pointed out that the droppings they experienced weren't nearly as ominous and scary as they sound.

"Droppings are still fun, but it's nowhere near being dropped 'in the middle of nowhere' There is no middle of nowhere in the Netherlands. Usually it a little bit of hiking in a dark piece of forest to make it exciting, and the rest is just following small country roads/ paths," said someone on Reddit.

This might be something for Americans to consider. Right now, the most treacherous trek I see a lot of kids taking is the ten steps from Mom's minivan to the front door of the school.

Let the kids fledge!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Open wide

I have been through surgery four times, and every time they ask if I can remove my wedding ring, and every time, they give up and cover it up with tape or silly putty or something like that.

I don't have dentures, but I would want to remove them if I had a fifth surgery.
It only makes sense.

Here's why:  a 72-year-old British man had his partial dentures get stuck in his throat during surgery.  AND no one figured it out for eight days, not even the edentulous victim of this negligence.

After eight days of having trouble swallowing, and coughing up blood, the man figured maybe he should go to the emergency room and let someone have a look-see down there.

Eight days.

ER Docs ordered up a chest X-ray, called it pneumonia, and sent him on his merry way with antibiotics and steroids.

Then he went to another (better) hospital for another X-ray. That showed his dentures — a metal roof plate and three false teeth — stuck at the top of this throat.

You really have to look very, very closely to see what's wrong in this throat.
This was good news to the man, because he thought the hospital where he had the surgery in the first place had lost his false choppers.

Dr. Mary Dale Peterson, an anesthesiologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, says putting a tube in a patient’s airway can have the result of putting things where they don’t belong.

And she went to medical school to learn that!

Back in Britain, the poor man still had a couple of rounds of bleeding and needed more surgery before he was all better. No one is naming the man, the hospitals, or the doctors (Dr Howard, Dr Fine, Dr Howard) so that they can all try to get better without having people laugh at them on the streets.

Doctors recommend telling your surgeon what's going in your mouth, if anything.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Is that a bottle of catsup or are you just glad it's lunchtime?

First of all, I still call it catsup, but that's not important now.

What matters is that someone who wanted to live life in the fast lane pulled the biggest heist of her life, ripping off a bottle of Heinz from a Perkins Restaurant in New Jersey.

People who work in restaurants are used to this sort of thing.  There are millions of Americans who are only dimly aware that Equal, Splenda, and Sweet 'N Low are available for purchase in grocery stores. They just load on the little pink or blue packets when they hunker down to the diner to tie on the feedbag.
And people steal salt and pepper shakers right and left, and stacks of napkins.

But I guess people will stick condiment bottles and jars under their tunics and steal away. That's what the Jersey bandit got away with, but she didn't get far.

Here is her letter of apology:

Someone smashed into her (getaway) car, and life itself was going down the dumper, so she went to WalMart, bought two big bottles of Heinz tomato topping and brought them back with this note (above).

Notice the turn of phrase she included with her remorse: "Again, I'm really sorry if I inconvenienced you the same way my life has been inconveniencing me. I'm sorry :( From, an awful person."

We are left to conclude that it was only after someone smashed her Subaru and other parts of her life turned fecal that she realized that theft is a crime, punishable by incarceration and/or fine.

Marie DiLeo is the franchise owner of the Perkins pancake house. Her manager found the bag with the catsup and the note and turned it over to her, and this is what DiLeo told the local news:

"I really felt bad. She's got to be 17, 18, 19. I really did feel bad."

Kindly, Ms DiLeo posted a picture of the bottles and note on Facebook "just to say, 'You're forgiven.'"

And because a) doing the right thing often brings unforeseen rewards and b) large corporations occasionally pause from their soul-crushing days of snaking across the world, relentlessly seeking profit above all, and crushing the competition to seize upon a public relations coup.  The good people at Heinz are appreciative, and will help to pay for some of the damages to the woman's car.

Good ketchup karma, indeed. Just as an aside, I feel that the person seeking a better bottle of catsup hunts for...Hunt's.  Just sayin'.

And DiLeo, who said no one even knew someone stole anything in the first place, said, "I do believe in karma," she said. "But not over a ketchup bottle."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


We spend a lot of time worrying about if things are clean and sanitary and telling ourselves that we won't get too many cooties at the Try 'N' Save if we wipe down the handles of our grocery cart as we set out to shop.

We feel really great that the person in the deli is wearing gloves when they handle the pickle and pimento loaf. Of course, who know where that glove-clad hand was two minutes ago, but anyhow...

We tend to think that germs are only in the bathroom, but that ain't necessarily so...

It turns out, the inside of your car (and surely mine) is BacteriaLand, where germs go to hide.

An insurance company called Netquote sent investigators, CSI types, to check out the germification level in cars like Uber sends for you, or taxis you hail, or sedans you rent at the airport.  They found that seat belts are dirtier than window buttons or door handles, which is a good thing, in one way, proving that people are using seat belts, but a bad thing, when you realize that their grubby mitts are dragging dirt from all over into that Impala.

They found that - get this - toilet seats contain fewer microorganisms than rideshares vehicles and rental cars.

“It all comes down to the frequency of cleaning. All surfaces that are touched regularly by numerous people will be germy. That’s why we clean them,” says Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Files. “Taxis are required to keep their cars clean, meaning they may be using cleaners and disinfectants that will aerosolize onto the belts and help keep the microbial numbers low. Another thing to think about is how often people who jump in a cab use the seat belt versus those who are in ride sharing. I’ve been in some cars where even in the back seat the seat belt is required. This could lead to a huge difference in the usage, which will reflect the germ levels.”
This is NOT my car!

So what he's saying is, that orange car from Rabid Cab is cleaner than the beater the guy around the corner drives for Uber. Makes sense.

Mr Tetro says the mnemonic device EWW will help you remember how to clean your seatbelts at home:

Extend: Pull the seat belt out all the way.
Wash: Scrub that belt with cleaner and disinfectant thoroughly.
Wipe: Wipe the fluids off with a towel to make sure the belt is all cleaned up.

I expect all of us to do this by the end of today. (Pause for laughter.)

Monday, August 19, 2019

Put your pencils down!

Just back from vacation, so I'll ease back into it with a little quiz. Please pass your papers forward when you're finished.

1. Do you like blue cheese?  I love it and it's always a surprise to find that many do not! It's my favorite salad dressing.
2. Coke or Pepsi?  Coke back in the day, but I have not had soda since 2005. Seltzer, please!
3. Do you own a gun? My great-great-grandfather's Civil War pistol. No bullets. And I'm afraid to find out what side he fought for.
4. What flavor of Kool-Aid? They still make Kool-Aid? I'll pass.
5. Hot dogs? Yes. Used to get Esskay Orioles franks but they stopped making them. So we switched to Nathan's and they are better than Esskay ever was!
6. Favorite TV show? For comedy: The Andy Griffith Show   For Drama: Law and Order (the one with Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe). For news and commentary: Keith Olbermann.
7. Do you believe in ghosts? Absolutely not. Balderdash, I say.
8. What do you drink in the morning? Hot tea and seltzer.
9. Can you do a push-up?  Yes.
10.Favorite jewelry? My wedding ring and my watch. Wouldn't go around without either.
11.My favorite Hobby? Writing my blog and collecting music
12. Do you have ADHD? Quite likely.
13. Do you wear glasses? I only need them for reading now, but it's easier to wear glasses all the time rather than run around looking for those halfies.
14. Favorite cartoon character? Top Cat >>>>>
15. Three things you did today? Laundry (twice), read, watched the Orioles
16. Drinks you drink all the time?  Iced Tea, Hot Tea and Seltzer
17. Current worries? ???
18. Do you believe in magic? As performed by stage "magicians," no. It's just sleight of hand. But what angels can do, yes!
19. Favorite place to be? At home with Peggy and the cats.
20. How did you bring in the New Year? Same as always - early dinner out and back home before the drunks come out. Watched the ball drop. Woke up and went to bed.
21. Where would you like to visit? Baseball Hall of Fame, Graceland, Grand Ole Opry.
22. Name four people that will most likely play this? ??
23. Favorite movie? Animal House, Caddyshack or Stripes.
24. Favorite color? Brown
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried them.
26. Can you whistle? Yes but I cannot figure out how to fingerwhistle :(
27. Where are you now? In my den.
28. Where would you want to be right now? I always only want to be exactly where I am.
29. Favorite food? Roast beef
30. What’s in your pocket? Nothing!
31. Last thing that made you laugh?  Howard Wolowitz
32. Favorite animal? Take a wild guess!
33. Name a weird item you’ve just purchased. A cup holder for my Yeti that is also a three-way flashlight.
34. How many TV’s are in your house? 4
35. Worst pain ever? Waking up from knee replacement surgery
36. Do you like to dance?  No way
37. Favorite number? 8
38. Do you enjoy camping? Who am I, Daniel Boone?

Feel free to copy, paste, and post!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday rerun: from 2010: Let's Play The Lightning Round

With our little corner of the world getting its annual spring deluges, it was nice to enjoy the first thunderstorm of the season on Sunday evening.

You know I am a nut about the weather, and you could just as easily leave off those last three words. I like rain and wind and cold and snow and howling blizzards. But a thunderstorm can be one of the great spectator events, and the price is absofreely lute.

It helps that we have a covered front porch. Standing underneath a tree or umbrella is not recommended, nor is flying a kite  during an electrical storm. Even if you have bet someone a stack of Benjamins  that you won't get zapped , it's still a risky business, and then you won't get to be around to see the next one if one should strike you or your fancy.

As soon as I hear the first distant rumble and can say with certainty that it's not the icemaker dropping another dozen cubes, or the garage door opener, or some other household device, I'm out there on the porch. I'll usually grab a transistor radio to take with me. Tuned to AM, a transistor radio is like a lightning crackle-meter. As the storm moves in closer, the annoying braying of ideologues on AM is mercifully drowned out by worthwhile energy. Used to be the Orioles ballgames were on an AM station, but now that they're on FM, I take the radio out on the porch with me, but you don't hear the storm coming on FM. Perhaps some station could arrange to augment their usual evening offerings with the recorded sounds of lightning coming down.

Storms  usually happen in the evening, making them the perfect post-dinner entertainment in the sky. I think it's because after a long day of heat and humidity, the meteorological conditions become just right for sparkin' up a thunderation. Another reason is that Heaven wants to put their really good shows on during prime time. There are times that the storm comes along after bedtime, and it's got to be a major deal to wake me from that dream I keep having. You know, the one where dream interpretation turns out to be a really valid scientific field, and psychics come to rule the earth.

As the thunder becomes louder and closer, look around and you won't see any birds or other critters in the yard. This is because Nature, in all her infinite wisdom, has given them the sense to come in out of the rain before the rain even begins. So a stark stillness accentuates the gaps between peals of thunder. And the air - the sweet, sweet ozone - smells as crisp and fresh as any air freshener you could buy.

Everyone has to get out of the various pools, creeks and filled quarries, lest lightning hit the water. If you're near a pool, kids are standing around in flip flops, with giant towels wrapped around themselves, waiting it out.

Meanwhile, back in the neighborhood, someone will always come out on the street and say,"It's gonna pass over!" This expression means it's gonna pass us by, not pass over us, because passing over us is just what the storm does when it finally hits, and blinding sheets of rain, none of them fitted or ironed, start issuing forth from the sky. If it's dark enough, the entire sky will be illuminated like the beaming visage of Keith Richards as lightning bolts are tossed by Thor in Norse mythology.

Hey, if you had to lift those heavy lightning bolts and throw them around, you'd be Thor, too!

Two more things you can bet on happening in every storm:

1 - Some guy up the street will choose the exact moment that the heavens open up to dash into his car and leave for an errand. He will return in five minutes, soaked to the gills, bearing a lime Slurpee and a slightly ashamed look.

2 - Someone will say, "It's good for the farmers." Without fail, every time, someone will say this.

In just a few minutes, it's all over, and it's back to the La-Z-Boy recliner and the remote and last week's New Yorker and a glass of iced tea. Man, I gotta tell you, that is something like livin', huh? And it's all free! No charge! So to speak.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show Rerun, from 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, August 16, 2019

1/8/35 - 8/16/77

From the New Yorker, December 6, 1999

Image result for elvis


Twenty years after the death, St. Paul

was sending the first of his epistles,

and bits of myth or faithful memory -

multitudes fed on scraps, the dead small girl

told "Talitha, cumi" - were self-assembling

as proto-Gospels.  Twenty years since pills

and chiliburgers did another in,

they gather at Graceland, the simple believers,

the turnpike pilgrims from the sere Midwest,

mother and daughter bleached to look alike,

Marys and Lazaruses, you and me,

brains riddled with song, with hand-tinted visions

of a lovely young man, reckless and cool

as a lily.  He lives. We live. He lives.

                                           John Updike

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday Rerun: C_H_E_A_T_E_R_

From the Associated Press:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — One of the top young Scrabble players in the country has been kicked out of the game’s national championship tournament in Florida after he was caught hiding blank letter tiles, organizers said Tuesday.

John D. Williams, Jr., executive director of the National Scrabble Association, said that a male player was ejected from the 350-player event in Round 24 of the 28-round event.

The cheating was spotted by a player at a nearby table, who noticed the ejected player conceal a pair of blank tiles by dropping them on the floor. Blank tiles can be used as wild card letters. When confronted by the tournament director, he admitted to it, organizers said.

Williams, who has served as executive director for 25 years and co-authored a book on the popular Hasbro board game in 1993, said this was the first incident of cheating at a national tournament. However, he said it’s been known to occur at smaller, regional events.

“It does happen no matter what. People will try to do this,” he said. “It’s the first time it’s happened in a venue this big though. It’s unfortunate. The Scrabble world is abuzz. The Internet is abuzz.”

Williams would not identify the player by name or age because he’s a minor. 

So, this bozo decides he's going to cheat at Scrabble.  You know, that is a sure sign of a society in decline, when even teenaged wonks try to get ahead in a board game by cheating, and do so in a feckless manner.

You get the feeling that the young unnamed man here was some sort of genius right out of the crib: probably read a lot, knew a lot of words, and shouldn't that have been enough?  No.  You also get the feeling (at least, you do if you are I) that his parents encouraged him to go into the high-pressure world of competitive scrabble, where the top prize of $10,000 looms like a huge carrot in front of frenzied contestants.  And maybe, his mom and dad told him that it's ok to get an edge in life.  After all, son, it's ok to cheat on your taxes, so long as you don't get caught.  And if mom "forgets" to pay for the 100-lb sack of Dog-B-Fed down at the Food Clown, well, so Rover eats for free.  What could be wrong?

I might be all wet here; it could be that the parents of this misguided youth guided him as well as any parents ever, and he got off track all on his own.  Maybe.  But I do know that somewhere he got the idea that cheating is right. And that is so wrong. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday Rerun: Oh THAT Wib Davenport!

Down in Virginia, if you want to drive away from a certain Chevrolet dealer, you should know this: they really drive a hard bargain!

Danny Sawyer, 40, bought a black Chevy Traverse from Priority Chevrolet back in May, but woke up the next day wishing he had bought a blue one.  He drove back to the dealership and found a blue one that caught his fancy, and that's where things go crazy.

The blue one must have had some optional equipment that the black SUV lacked, because after Sawyer swapped cars, went on vacation and came home, he came home to many frantic messages from the car lot and its sales manager, whose name is Wib Davenport.  We've all known someone named "Wib," haven't we?  The car Sawyer wound up with cost $5,600 more than the original one, and how would he like to pay for that, was the point of all the messages.

All this turmoil over this?
He wouldn't like to pay for that.  Sawyer says no one told him that the blue car cost more, and even though the dealership says they told him that it did, there still seems to be a matter of him not signing anything additional to attest to the switcheroo.

Completely disregarding the basic tenet of good customer service (Never have your customers thrown in jail, since it's hard to buy a car from there) the dealership called the local cops, who mistook a civil matter for a crime, and ushered Sawyer into a cell for four hours.

Dennis Ellmer, president of Priority Chevrolet, has decided to be adorable about the whole thing and says Sawyer can keep the blue car for the price of the black one, and hey!  How about a free tire rotation, buddy boy?

Ironically enough, Sawyer rotated those tires himself, driving over to the office of a lawyer, upon whose sage advice he has filed two lawsuits against the dealer, accusing the business of malicious prosecution, slander, defamation and abuse of process. He'll need a total of $2.2 million in damages, plus attorney fees before he feels better about the whole doggone thing.

We used to have a Chevy dealer in Baltimore who advertised that his dealership, at the corner of York and Bellona, was "the best place to become a Chevrolet ownah!"

Priority Chevrolet can now claim proudly that they offer a car buyer the chance to "come on down and get a Chevy on sale - and if we don't like you, we'll throw you in jail!"

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday Rerun: Act Naturally

Worldly and sophisticated, I am certainly no stranger to the Seven Lively Arts (music, literature, drama, painting, dance, conversation and Fleming) but I remain as a child, in awe of the masters of each.  If I could write or perform music, write great books or plays, act in a movie or play, tap dance like Danny Effing Kaye, conduct colloquies with the likes of world leaders and those who should be, and remember to give my answer in the form of a question, I'd be one well-rounded citizen.  

And yet, given enough time, I could learn to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the harmonica, write some short story that might hold someone's interest for three minutes (Opening line: "Spring comes late to Carney."), smear some paint around in the impressionist manner, or talk with Obama or Castro.  But acting? No. Forget it. Couldn't do it.

We tend to forget that there is such a thing as acting; at least, I forget it.  We see stars such as, oh let's say, John Travolta.  We first saw him as Vinnie Barbarino on "Welcome Back, Kotter" and every role since has been sort of variation on that theme.  We had Greaser Vinnie in "Grease," Disco Vinnie in "Saturday Night Fever" and so on down the line, right up to Goon Vinnie in "Get Shorty" and Firefighter Vinnie in "Ladder 49."  And listen, people still want to see him in movies, so it's all good.

Old timers like Phil Silvers - cocky, strutting, wiseacre burlesque comics - were in movie after movie, always pretty much the same guy, too...a cocky, strutting wiseacre buddy with Victor Mature, or a cocky, strutting wiseacre Army sergeant. 

Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay!
On the other hand, I had always heard that Meryl Streep was a great actress, able to assume different personae in different movies.  Of course, you could have been handing out $100 bills to the audiences of "Sophie's Choice" or "Kramer vs Kramer" and I would still be without a $100 bill.  True, Peggy was able to inveigle me into seeing "The Bridges of Madison County," although I spent the entire movie hoping that Clint would suddenly turn into Dirty Harry and just go really Mad-ison, but no.  

Then, I went to see Garrison Keillor's movie "A Prairie Home Companion," and there she was, a New Jersey girl playing the part of a country singer from Minnesota! And then,  we watched "The Devil Wears Prada," and she was acting like a completely different human being!   I said, "Peggy, this shrewish harridan is nothing like Yolanda Johnson from Mr Keillor's movie!"

And Peggy, with the tenderness that we use to explain to children that Superman is just a made-up character, told me that she was able to appear to be different people by acting!

Phil Silvers! Phil Silvers! Phil Silvers!
Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty!  Here's to all those who can do this sort of thing!  I can't act like anyone other than myself, which some will be quick to point out is a tragic shortcoming.  Here's to Meryl Streep.  And Phil Silvers, too.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monday Rerun: Looking for a Safe Way to shop

We talked the other day about how busboys (and it's always a busBOY - why do restaurants not have women doing this? I'm sure they would be too smart to) keep taking plates away from diners who aren't finished their meals.  Our conclusion seemed to be that we should blame the whole thing on some sort of national plate shortage.

And then something else came to mind, and it must be attributed to a shortage of time.  I'm going to ask a question here:

What's the big rush in the grocery store?  Why, when I am trying to load my groceries on the belt and get everything packed and carted and ready to take on home, do people keep shoving their carts into my achin' anklebones?  Here's the deal...I'll be putting ginger ale, fig newtons or burrito wraps on the belt and then wham! Earl and Marge, next in line, shove their cart up to me. Excuse me, but neither one says, "excuse me."  And then - since as a veteran A&P register operator/ bagger I know enough to put the stop that goes on top of the bags at the end of the line - Earl starts wedging his bottled prune juice, flank steak and Metamucil right up against my light bulbs, hippie bread and eggs.  Do they even think about using one of those plastic logs as a divider?  They do not.

It just so happens that I love shopping for, cooking, and consuming groceries.  As a young man, I looked forward to a trip to the A&P on Joppa Rd, which closed down years ago and became the home of a Dodge dealership, but then times got hard and people couldn't afford new American cars, so the Dodge people left and now it's about to become a BMW agency.  But when it was an A&P, my mom would take me there, and then and there I began my lifelong love affair with aisles crammed with Realemon, Snap-E-Tom, Bisquick, Reddi Wip, TastyKakes and Ugli Fruit.

It does not go unnoticed that grocery manufacturers do not hold to my devotion to good spelling.  But I love to peruse the aisles of a good supermarket.  It's not until I go to check out that the assault begins.

It's often my luck to be behind a veteran shopper who wants to break the cashier's cashews over the current price of food, how many items to place in a bag (paper inside plastic of course), and why he or she won't accept this 7¢ coupon on Parkay margarine clipped from the December 5, 1972 issue of LIFE magazine.  While I wait, hoping to avoid seeing my loaf get smashed, Marge and Earl are noodging their cart ever closer to my ankles, and I can only wonder why?  Daring to take my eyes away from my lower appendages for a quick look at my watch, I see that it's 2:43 on a Saturday afternoon.  So what's the rush?

If I find out why everyone is suddenly in a hurry to get out of the BagUrSelf every Saturday afternoon, I might join the rush.  Until then, I'll be in aisle 10, wearing ankle braces.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Rerun: When In Rome

I always thought the Spanish Steps were what you did to dance the Flamenco, so that shows what I know.

Somewhere in this picture you will see a guy
with a pencil and sketchpad.
He is drawing a crowd.
The Spanish Steps are a stairway over Via Condotti, a swanky street in the fashion district of Rome. They were built in 1725, back in the days when you get really could get marble work done for a pittance.  Today, it would cost you a few million zucchini to get the same steps put in your back yard.

But you would get the same result.  All over the world, where you and I see stairs as a way to get up or get down, some people see a place to park their carcasses and "set" a spell.

So, with these marble steps being polished by so many glutei over the centuries, and so many people spilling their pizzas and vino all over the place, the marble steps, once shiny and bright, got to looking a tad crummy.

The good people at Bulgari (they say they are a luxury jewelry firm, but that means nothing to me, a guy who shops for jewels at Walmarti) spent $1.7 million to restore the Steps. It has taken a year, but finally the Spanish Steps look just like they did in 1725, when Betty White was there to cut the ribbon on Opening Day.

The problem is that Paolo Bulgari, who, in an amazing coincidence is both the chairman of the jewelry firm AND the nephew of its founder, wants to protect his investment.  

"Restorers have done a great and difficult job. The steps were coated with anything from coffee, wine, chewing gum," he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"But now I am worried. If we don't set strict rules, the steps will go back to being used as a camping site for barbarians," the billionaire reportedly said, adding that a gate or a Plexiglas barrier "doesn't seem like an impossible task."


There it is.

I don't know how they do things in Italy, having never traveled any further east that the boardwalks at several Atlantic Ocean resorts, but I can't see an American businessperson spending private bucks for public good and then calling the public "galoots," "heathens" or "brutes."  It's bad for public relations.  People don't like being called names or being accused of wrongdoing as part of a whole group lumped together in vain. I hope I'm not being too subtle here.

Bulgari clearly did not live in Baltimore in the heyday of Royal Parker (born Royal Pollokoff) who passed away earlier this year but could host newscasts, kiddie cartoon shows and bowling shows with equal skill and zest.

And commercials!  Millions of them.  The most memorable of them, for clear slipcovers, showed kids bouncing up and down on some cheesy living room sofa and chair, while we heard Royal holler, "Hey, kids, get off that furniture, what are you trying to do, ruin it?"

This very sentence was known for years in our town as the only way to greet Mr Parker when we saw him at the ballpark or the mall.  He was always a good guy about it, and if he were still with us on this mortal coil, he would likely tell Bulgari that encasing the priceless stairs in some hi-grade see-thru vinyl could keep the marble shiny while keeping food, wine and tracked-in shoedirt off!

The whole world would be a better place if everyone had grown up in Baltimore.