Monday, February 28, 2011

Today's News

My car is stuck in my driveway, in the rain and frozen slush and snow that is Maine in almost-March. I cannot go anywhere, possibly until the spring thaw which around these parts comes sometimes as late as almost-May. I went online to search "tires stuck in snowbank" and all I found was pictures of Charlie Sheen, a druggie sitcom star who earns two million per episode and lives with porn stars and has five children. He allegedly has a briefcase full of cocaine and does TV interviews wherein he says he is a godlike persona. He famously trashed his room at the Plaza Hotel last year. News of his deconstructing life is everywhere you turn.

But my car being stuck is so much more important than Charlie Sheen! To me, of course, but that's life; each of us has a story with Me in the lead role. My supporting actor in today's episode was Vince, our plow guy, who came to clear our driveway but of course could not because my car was in it. He was very nice, very helpful, with a big pot belly but fleet on his feet nonetheless. He sized up the situation, threw sand everywhere and then pushed the car while I drove it in reverse. That made me nervous, reminding me of a horrible high-school tragedy wherein Emily someone and her boyfriend were in the parking lot of the Lynbrook Movie Theater, and somehow he pinned her to the brick wall while she was waving him into or out of a parking space. One of them was horribly disfigured and the other one went crazy, or something like that; remember this was almost 50 years ago.

So I told Vince to forget it and he left without plowing and now it's all a stuck mess and will freeze that way. But at least nobody was hurt.

My Own Extraordinary Oscar Party

Come on, admit it: You watched the Academy Awards last night, or at least part of it. Even though I have gone to a movie theater only once this year, like the proverbial moth to the proverbial flame, I couldn't help myself. Last night, with nothing pressing to do and with a nagging backache and admittedly jaundiced eye, I watched the whole thing from my living room couch. My husband was in the room but was busy working, looking up sometimes but not often enough to offer any stinging barbs or meaningful criticism. Soon enough I wondered, is this the Strapless Evening Gown Awards? Is this the Anne Hathaway Show, and who is that smirking guy standing next to her? In fact, who are most of those people? Where are the likes of Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, De Niro and Denzel, not to mention a Paul Newman or a Judy Garland, or even a Liza Minelli for that matter?

When I was a kid, watching the Academy Awards show was a very big deal. My parents let me stay up late, not all the way to the Best Picture but almost. It was exciting. Bob Hope was always the host and he always cracked me up with his corny jokes. When I was a teenager, I watched the show with my girlfriends, mainly to gawk at all the male movie stars we had crushes on. In my twenties, I attended or sometimes even hosted "Oscar parties" where the attendees would all get stoned and eat great food and trash the tacky production numbers and make fun of the outlandish dresses and inane acceptance speeches. Naturally, we applauded Marlon Brando's rejection of the award because of something to do with our government's treatment of native Americans but I'm not sure what.

During the years since I have only vaguely been aware of who was hosting the show and would tune in to see Steve Martin or Billy Crystal, watching for a few minutes until I got the drift that their shtick was scripted by a team of Hollywood chimps. If a special movie was up for an award, I would turn it on at the end to see if it won. (Helen Mirren! The Queen!)

As far as I was concerned, last night's show was remarkable for two things: First, Kirk Douglas is still alive, sort of. Who knew? And second, according to the constant commercials which interrupted the proceedings, allowing Anne to change into yet another outfit, drinking Diet Coke, which I happen to do every so often, doesn't just make you extraordinary, it makes you stay extraordinary, inferring that you already are. Again, who knew?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Please, No Pictures

Celebrity is not for me. In today's New York Times there is an article about the leading "self-exposing blogger striving to be heard." She typically gets 100,000 hits daily. Just hearing that gives me the shivers. I don't mind telling you that yesterday, eight people read my blog. Some days I get as many as 40 or 50 readers if it's a hot topic. These statistics make me happy.

I learned this fact about myself several weeks back when I wrote about Keith Olbermann, the despicable newsman who thankfully was ousted from his anchor desk at MSNBC shortly thereafter--a coincidence no doubt, but I had a lot of fun suggesting my blog took him down. The post in question suggested that Olbermann would be a much better target for a deranged person, instead of all the good souls who have been downed by assassins in the past. For some reason, and in part because my husband's equally despicable distant relative sent it to her rabid left-wing Facebook community, the post reached a wide audience including the horrible Mr. O himself. Within just a few hours I had received 300 comments from the more than 9,000 viewers, each of whom told me I suck in no uncertain terms. The story was picked up by many opportunistic Internet news sites, labeling me a "would-be assassin."

The experience made me ill. I couldn't walk past a window in my home without feeling I was in the crosshairs of at least one cloaked intruder crouching in the surrounding woods. Within a few hours, angry phone calls reached my home, oddly enough all from the same black woman who screamed "Hallelujah!" and told me to "take that down" or pay a dear price. Scathing notes arrived at my Facebook page and in my personal email.

Against the advice of friends and my husband, I deleted the entire blog-- naturally I printed it first-- and laid low for about a week.  I began anew with a different name, hiding from the masses, most of whom are crazy fools. You, my dear friends and readers, are a select group--you are not crazy fools. Thanks for that.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Untouchables in the Teacher's Lounge

I know little about the details of most political issues, but once in a great while something comes along that I do know about, and unions fall into that category. The current brouhaha in Wisconsin over teachers' unions reminds me of my days as a newspaper art director. I worked at several and was always considered to be "management" and so was never in a union, but I sure did get a close look at their membership--often too close.

At both the Oakland Tribune and the Washington Star I inherited lazy slackers who sat back on their duffs and did almost no work but could not be fired because they were in the union. These folks were commonly referred to as "dead wood" and their contracts were "untouchable." When I complained that I needed to hire better people, which I did every few months, I was told to "wait it out and hope they retire or die." Their overwhelming lack of industry, ability and motivation didn't matter; they were in the union!

I suspect there is a lot of that going on in the Wisconsin school system. After all, if a mob of people willing to protect you waits silently in the wings, you are not in any danger and can totally relax. It's a little like the Mafia-- and a lot like the Democratic legislators in Wisconsin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Time Marches On

Big news: Motorola is releasing its Xoom tablet TODAY! This comes after months of speculation! It is the first iPad challenger to run Honeycomb, an elegant new version of Google's Android operating system.

I have a few questions, the posing of which places me squarely in the middle of Old Age:
1. Doesn't Motorola make record players?
2. Wouldn't the correct spelling be Zoom?
3. Besides the Moses kind and the Bayer kind, what's a tablet?
4. Aren't Androids from outer space?

I know I said I am always kidding, but today I am only partly kidding. (Not telling which part.) It seems that to be alive and functioning in 2011, one must be plugged in to something, hopefully not a respirator. Imagine for a moment what might happen to the planet if by some quirk of fate, nature or terrorism, electricity failed us. What would you do?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Little I Know

I was stunned when Arianna Huffington sold her blog for millions of dollars. Who knew a blog is worth money? I immediately went blog-diving to see what's out there and was amazed at how other writers present themselves. Some take themselves quite seriously, as if their thoughts matter more than those of the average Jane or Joe. The most pretentious blogs have a section called About Me that documents the blogger's valuable professional experience, marital status or number of pets. 

This morning I read one of those pretentious blog's Statement of Purpose that said: "I offer my blog as a resource for busy working moms." Barf. That particular sentence was written by a Washington, D.C. real estate agent who "understands how hard it is to juggle work and family life." What juggle? How busy is she? I guess not too busy since her blog posts go on and on.

For me, a blog allows me to keep writing, an activity I find as much fun as eating but a lot less fattening. Not as much fun as oil painting, but blogging is a lot neater and there is almost no cleanup. There's also no boss, no agenda, no assigned subject and no deadline. It's sort of like when musicians get together for a jam session, only it's just me. I can write it off the top of my head, then go back the next day and improve it, change a word or a phrase, correct a typo.

As for my mission, even when I write about something weighty, I'm just kidding. I assume that anyone who has a need for correct and/or urgent information will be looking elsewhere. Besides, I am an expert on only a very few things, and have never written about them. My areas of expertise: 
     1. Cleaning litter boxes. My cats have barely finished doing their business before I'm on the scene with a scooper. The thought of cat excrement lying in open containers around my house is a great motivator.
     2. Cooking soup. Nobody makes better soup than me, and I defy anyone to try. Again, this is not something one can write about since you need a kitchen and lots of ingredients. Besides, soup just happens, I guess you could call it a natural gift. (Here's a tip: if there aren't any onions in the house, don't even think about it.)
     3. Reading people's minds. I do this constantly with my husband, a skill with very little practical use to anyone else, but it comes in handy every so often and naturally keeps him quite honest in his dealings with me. Even better, at cocktail parties I can always tell when the person with whom I'm engaged in idle chatter thinks I'm an asshole.
     4. Weighing myself surreptitiously. I have done this daily, and sometimes more often than that, for the last 40 years. I weighed myself on the walk back to my hospital room after 23 hours of labor giving birth to my son when the nurse escorting me looked away. I have stripped down and weighed myself on many doctor's scales in empty examining rooms while waiting for another family member to be seen by a physician. It's tricky but it can be done, and unlike shoplifting, if you get caught it's not going on your record. Finally I purchased a regulation doctor's scale so I don't have to do that anymore.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Recipe for Disaster, Y'all

It may look easy what with so many people being overweight these days, but believe me--it takes concentrated effort to get fat and stay that way. Paula Deen can help.

If you get a chance, just watch a snippet of her TV cooking show, y'all. Right away you notice that she's fat, and then you notice that she's southern, y'all, and she says "y'all" so often that y'all will want to find out where she is and go there and put a bullet through her head. Fight the urge. I am not calling for Paula Deen's assassination, y'all. (Keith Olbermann is a different story.)

Paula's unique skill is making people even fatter than they could make themselves without her expertise. In this way she is very similar to the Barefoot Contessa, another tubby TV cook who thinks no recipe cannot be improved by adding a stick of butter. Today I watched Paula demonstrate, along with her equally "y'alling" Aunt Peggy, how Aunt Peggy makes the very same sweet potato souffle that has been a favorite of Paula's for 62 years, and it shows. It is this relatively simple but nauseating recipe I share with you here, y'all:

Boil and then mash a few super-healthy sweet potatoes--high in fiber, rich in antioxidants and only 103 calories each--and transform them into a diabetic's worst nightmare by adding the following:
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
Pour mixture into a casserole.

Combine and crumble on top:
4 oz. (1/2 stick) butter, cubed
1/2 cup self-rising cake flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Bake 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Throw up.

More Governmental Follies

Exactly how much money does our government waste in the face of all the problems it doesn't fix? I'm guessing quite a bit. I care not who gets elected to office since, regardless of which party is in control, we still have poverty, crime and homelessness. Our new presidents often result in little more than fresh fodder for journalists reporting on the First Wife's wardrobe and hairstyle, the new dog or cat in the White House, and which movie stars get invited to fancy State Department dinners. (Yes, George W. started a war, but Obama hasn't ended it; why not?)

Now the brilliant minds who control our tax dollars are set to launch a "massive study" on the effects of the Gulf oil spill on cleanup worker's health. The study, commissioned after some workers complained of chest pain, headaches and other ailments, will look at everything from rashes to breathing problems to potential increased cancer risk. This will cost the government, which means us, eight million dollars, added to six million from BP, the oil company responsible for the whole mess. Thus, 14 million dollars will be spent trying to see whether workers who helped clean up last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill are getting sick as a result of those jobs. (I'm guessing yes, but hey, I'm no scientist.)

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Lawyers often use epidemiological studies as ammunition in lawsuits contending environmental incidents injured their clients." Instead of fueling more lawsuits, wouldn't it be better to spend that money on ways to avoid another disaster? And if we learn that the oil spill did result in all those folks being sick, does that mean we won't clean up the next one?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bubba Clinton Spawns Biebermania

Justin Bieber is a child celebrity and singer currently thrilling pre-teen and younger girls with his impish looks. (To me, he's a leprechaun who bears a striking resemblance to the lead singer of Herman's Hermits, a musical group popular back in the late 1960s.)  Justin showed up seemingly overnight and became a full-blown super star. In a recent Rolling Stone interview he was asked for his opinion of abortion. Yikes...he is 16! Apparently his answer was a tad immature, causing consternation among some people who have no real problems of their own.

Piggy-backing on this insanity, an op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times debated whether Master Bieber had failed to answer the question well enough, considering his place in society as someone wielding influence over young girls.

I place the blame for this nonsense squarely on Bill Clinton's shoulders. Owing to his lapse in judgment so many years ago--oral sex with a White House intern barely out of her teens--serious matters have taken a back seat to tabloid fodder, which has been elevated to the stuff of high-minded editorials. Life in these United States gets sillier every day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Next Wave of Writing

No need to worry if your kids decide not to finish their education, or even start one. I found the following ad online, and it seems that in the near future, or even right now, you can write like a pro just by joining a writer's club and getting some of these cool tools, all for FREE. Who knew?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's So Great About Being Happy?

Total strangers who share my life for mere minutes in my consignment shop tell me their personal problems, completely unsolicited, and it's no damn picnic. And though the saying goes, "the customer is always right," I do start to wonder if anyone is happy, ever--after all, these are the people out shopping! (God knows what's up with the people filling all the hospitals or confined to our prisons or sleeping on the streets, going hungry or dying in a hospice.) And yet they are still miserable, complaining to anyone who will listen even as they pick out a new dining room table or a pair of silver candlesticks.

Humans are capable of an entire range or emotions, yet the most popular one by far is represented by that yellow Smiley Face; anything less than :) or :D and you are considered unstable, weird, a bummer or downright nuts. What's so great about being happy? Is it so terrible to be unhappy? Is being in a bad mood such a crime? Do we all have to smile all the time and say "cheese" for pictures? Who says a frown (such a funny word) is not photogenic?

I suspect the suicide rate would plummet if all those angry and depressed people didn't think their feelings were unwarranted. Let's raise a glass to unhappiness....another way to live.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Faithful Leader

Yesterday I read a snippet of something somewhere --probably the Wall Street Journal since that's my daily paper--that came right out and stated that former president and my one-time hero JFK was a sex addict! I have certainly heard before that he was a bit of a "ladies man" but never knew it was as bad as all that. And today's paper is full of news about Italy's premier Berlusconi, who is going on trial April 6 in Milan on charges that he paid for sex with a 17-year-old prostitute and then tried to cover it up. (Apparently he failed.)

When our fearless leader Barack Obama first announced his candidacy, I was all for it. Heck, I sent the guy twenty-five bucks to add to his campaign chest. A black president, how cool would that be, I thought. Turns out it's not so cool. In fact, for a smart guy Obama seems pretty dull much of the time, not all the way to stupid but on the way.

Take this photo, which is currently making the rounds on the Internet as proof of his stupidity. You do have to wonder just what the heck he's doing here. But at least he seems to really like his wife, which these days--the list of philandering politicians is far too long to post here-- is saying something.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whoopies in the News

A whoopie pie is a little cake sandwich about the size of a hamburger bun, usually chocolate, that is filled with cream or marshmallow. It is currently caught in the middle of a custody battle between Pennsylvania and Maine, both claiming to have originated the repulsive treat. Maine is at this very moment rushing to pass legislation naming it as the state dessert, hoping to wrest the honor from Pennsylvania, which claims it as the creation of a local Amish woman a hundred years ago. Coincidentally, both states are also in competition for the title of Most Obese Population.

Whoopi Goldberg is feeling dissed because some article in the New York Times about Oscar-winning blacks omitted her. You may have forgotten, and who could blame you, that she won an Oscar for a supporting role in "Ghost" back in 1992. My son was five that year; he is now 23. The star, Patrick Swayze, has been dead for some time now. And Whoopi thinks this omission on the part of the Times is an example of racism when really it is just an insult to her talent: Who thinks of Whoopi Goldberg and Oscar-winning performances at the same time?

I have never liked Whoopi and it has nothing to do with her skin color, it is based on three things and three things only: her dumb name, her lack of talent and her huge ego.  She said on "The View," the daytime TV show with all the women who sit around gossiping about celebrities, "I know it's hard to believe, but I'm a worldwide person who's known." She's right about that--it is hard to believe.

I have lived in Maine for two years now and have never eaten a whoopie pie, although many people have nagged me to try one. It's that dumb name again. Not appealing.

Lady Gaga Makes Me Ga-gag

Okay, I guess I am finally, seriously and truly morphing into an old person. I will turn 65 this year, and even though I don't feel old or act old, I now have definite proof of actually being old, because the very existence and success of someone named Lady Gaga (see photo)--who I am proud to say I have never seen perform--makes me know for a fact and without a doubt that this generation is going to hell in a hand basket, and I'm not going with it.

The "lady" in question apparently won some awards at last night's Grammys, which I missed because I was busy knitting booties for all my friends' grandchildren and then went to bed early with a cup of tea and a hot water bottle for my sciatica, but I read about the whole thing today on this newfangled Internet thing. Seems she was carried onto the stage inside of a giant egg, and then later accepted her awards in a black rubber suit affixed with protruding rubber lumps where her breasts should have been. (Didn't Madonna invent that?)

I don't recall ever seeing Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole, Judy Garland, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Liza Minelli, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Barbra Streisand or Bette Midler ever wearing rubber and they sure could sing, but this Lady Gaga's attire is apparently the most important aspect of her "talent." I read today that "she's already donned a dress of perspex bubbles during her first solo tour, a jacket made out of dozens of Kermit the Frog Muppets on a German television show in 2009, and hundreds of white pearls glued to her face for a New York charity event last year."

If this is what's happening in the music industry today, I want to be old. Pass the Geritol, please.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I am exhausted trying to come up with a vacation destination, the last few choices having been abandoned for one reason or another. This morning, trying to be helpful, my husband asks if there are any places I would be sorry never to have seen, were I on my deathbed. I think about this for some time and say no, none that I could realistically visit. There are a few I can't get to, like Mt. Everest (I'm too old), Oz (it's fictional), New Zealand (eight hours in the air is my limit) and any other planet.

As for all the rest, I have been to foreign shores and sunny beaches and Disney parks and deep woods and seen mesas and deserts and mountains and Yellowstone and giant craters and big cities around the world.  Paris and London are New York City with accents. Ireland is Vermont. Italy is fabulous, but really, museums and shopping, eating and drinking--I can do that right here in Maine. Sure, it's fun to see odd flora and fauna and those tiny lizards on the sidewalks and cars driving on the wrong side of the road, but the bottom line is I am still me when I get there, and we still have to plan dinner every friggin' night!

Call me jaded, but what I'm really after is a change. Escape from the everyday. Somewhere else. A place where animals speak our language, the dead are available for short visits, coffee appears when I awake each morning and fireworks are a weather condition. Maybe an occasional frog storm. Now that would be a trip worth packing for.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Valentines' Day to My Heart

For me, having chronic high blood pressure feels like I've swallowed a live hand grenade that could go off inside me with little provocation and even less warning. It could happen any time at all! Words like stroke, embolism, aneurism and attack are all waiting in the wings; these are not words I want associated with my insides.

I have had this condition for several years but I still don't understand it, and I mean that literally: reading a scientific explanation makes me anxious, causing my blood pressure to rise, so I don't do it. I have never gotten further than knowing it's got something to do with blood pumping into the heart and out of the heart and how much there is when you're resting and how much when you're--actually, that's all I know. And how would it help me to know? The disease is called a "silent killer" since there are allegedly no symptoms, but I can always tell when mine is soaring: I get the subtle but distinct feeling of a train rumbling into the station, and the station is my head.

The causes of high blood pressure include anxiety, yelling and screaming, salt consumption and defending Rush Limbaugh to rabid lefties. My treatment plan includes prescription meds, drinking lots of water, deep breathing and exercise. I try hard to stay calm, but my condition is exacerbated by:
1. Rufus, my aging, arthritic, half-blind miniature schnauzer refusing to go outside for a walk, eschewing dog food, begging for people food at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, begging for treats the rest of the time, barking for no reason, licking his genitals while I am eating and constantly demanding attention.
2. My 15-year-old cats fighting like common alley toms over who will occupy my lap, wailing at the basement door day and night to go down and visit the mice, meowing for food and then throwing up that very same food, purring in my ear all night, so loudly that it infiltrates my dreams, which are often about construction work or dental drilling, and constantly seeking love.
3. People insisting that George W. Bush is an idiot because he pronounces the word nuclear as "nucular," even though those very same people say "supposably" and "jewlery" and "for all intensive purposes."

When I woke up this morning my BP was 175/115; now it's 113/75. Writing this helped, and that tranquilizer didn't hurt.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Not Me, It's You

Sometimes I wonder why all people are not friends with all people, simply because we are all people; why we need to be "introduced" before we can converse; why we can't smile and wave and say "hey, how ya doin'?" to everyone in the street.  Other times I am shocked that anyone ever finds anything to like about anyone else, considering we are all masses of insecurities and bad habits and hidden fetishes and secret longings.

The problem at hand is this: How do you end a friendship that is no longer nourishing, is in fact harmful to your health and disturbing to your peace of mind? Ironically, I have thrice been on the receiving end of this dilemma: twice I received scathing kiss-off emails which arrived completely out of the blue, to my shock and amazement, and in the third instance, I endured months of silence and unanswered voice messages. In the end I thought, "wow, who knew?" So now that I'm the one doing the breaking up, I'd like to do it in a way that causes little pain or discomfort.

But how? I have no idea, and thus have limped along, sometimes for years, with depleted friendships weighing me down. Case in point: Many years ago my best friend of ten years married a Creep. (That's a creep with a capital C.) He was horrid--in fact, even she thought so--but still, it happened. For five years I tolerated countless uncomfortable evenings, sitting across from him making empty chitchat and dragging my husband and son into the mess. Finally, in a scene straight out of a Neil Simon play, the situation exploded over breakfast inside a New York City coffee shop where the other patrons were treated to the laundry list, at quite a high pitch I might add, of all the inherent ills within the doomed friendship.

All these years later I find that my patience, like my skin, has worn thin, and now I have high blood pressure to boot. (Who knows, the slightest shock could kill me!) It's bad enough when I have to argue with the gas company over an incorrect bill or when that fresh, organic chicken I paid $20.00 for turns out to be frozen--I certainly don't want to have tsouris with a friend because of who I voted for in the last election or what book I haven't read or which TV news organization is the more biased. Besides, it's downright dishonest to spend time with people you don't like; everyone has the right to true and lasting friendship, although not necessarily with me.

Hmmm...if I could just think of a way to tell her.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Separate Vacations

My husband wants to go on a vacation-- someplace warm and foreign feeling, interesting, with sandy beaches and exotic drinks.  He keeps saying things like Florida, Bermuda, Barcelona, the islands.

I am unmotivated. I am not sure what we are vacating from. Our lives are not hard: neither one of us toils on an assembly line or in the cotton fields or in a coal mine or steel mill. I have an upscale consignment shop a mile from my house where I hang out and chat with people about antiques. Sometimes I do other things, like volunteer, but none of it is the least bit difficult or taxing. He spends a lot of time in the air, on the phone, on the computer and out to dinner, thinking hard and talking a lot, but it's not painful in any way, and he has enough energy leftover to pick things up and put them down at the gym almost every day.

We do not golf. I do not swim in the ocean; haven't since "Jaws." I do not sunbathe; haven't since I learned about skin cancer. I do not shop. What will we do every day? I realize that I need the opposite of a vacation--I need an agenda. He says how about India. I say it's much too far to fly, too many poor people once you arrive and flies on elephants everywhere. He suggests Mexico. I say too violent, I do not want a personal bodyguard and I hate Mexican food.

Have we reached that terrible moment, now in our 25th year of marriage, when the idea of separate vacations arises? I hope not, but it seems sad that he has to forgo his wanderlust because of my fear of flying. Of course, it's no sadder than me having to take a tranquilizer to get myself through security--take off your shoes, show them your tiny shampoo and tiny toothpaste, where's my boarding pass, what's that beeping, hold your arms up like this-- and into a tin tube for hours and hours, flirting with a blood clot in my leg, just so he can be somewhere else for a week. Plus, there's all that packing and unpacking and then packing again to come home and unpacking at home and laundry and arranging for the animals, etc.

After searching the Internet for hotels in warm places, all of which started to look too touristy and predictable and no fun at all, I asked if we couldn't just stay home and turn up the thermostat and make some of those pineapple drinks with little umbrellas in them, but he's watching the Super Bowl and has not responded.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

FILM REVIEW: The Social Network

I was really looking forward to watching "The Social Network," the very right now insider movie about the birth of Facebook and accompanying rise of its curmudgeonly genius founder, Harvard University undergrad Mark Zuckerberg. Despite being an "aging boomer," I actually like Facebook and find it a useful tool and a fun way to stay in touch with distant friends. Plus, the movie has been hyped to death as UNBELIEVABLY FANTASTIC by all who have seen it, including reviewers. So last night we settled in front of the TV with a rented DVD from Blockbuster, expecting a damn good time.

Instead, we got lots of mumbled, ultra-wordy dialog, hard enough to follow even if you could hear it over the too-loud, annoying soundtrack of throbbing music. Worse was the stunningly bad acting, making one ache for the young Dustin Hoffman or even a younger-than-today Ben Stiller in the leading role. Cutting back and forth between then and now and sometime in-between, we see the young, anti-social Zuckerberg and the older, successful but still anti-social Zuckerberg, along with lawyers and best friends and ex-best-friends, not to mention some blonde lady from the university who seems to have wandered onto the set from "Judgment at Nuremberg," asking all the hard questions of who stole what from whom, and when.

On the plus side, male voyeurs will enjoy the steamy bathroom-stall sex scene and all the nice college girls stripping for all the nice Harvard boys at drinking parties. Thrown in for some gut-wrenching realism, we see future leaders of industry vomiting in the snow, ostensibly to gain access to secret societies for people with high SAT scores.

Bottom line: This movie is just too hard to follow to be any fun at all. Besides, any film featuring Justin Timberlake in a non-singing role has got to be kidding.

Friday, February 4, 2011

One More Thing I Don't Know

We are now in the Year of the Rabbit.  I learned this from a news photo of a huge crowd of people wearing bunny ears for a New Year's parade in Hong Kong.

Who knew? Of course, I am the first to admit that I know so little about so much. I have no idea what teams are playing in the Super Bowl this weekend. I don't know where the game will be played, or even if the correct spelling is Super Bowl or Superbowl. I have not stocked up on game day treats and have no plans to get together with friends to cheer on either team. The whole spectator sports thing escapes me: I get it if you are actually on the field playing the game, but just watching doesn't do it for me, which is also why I've never been into pornography or religion.

Not to sound too much like Andy Rooney, but there are simply too many things to know about these days. There's Egypt and Israel and the whole Middle East thing. The Kindle and the iPad and Wall Street and housing starts and Obamacare.  Politics in general and the 2012 election in particular. Throw in personal things like should I be taking Lipitor and what is the best blood pressure medication and I don't get enough exercise ever since my hip went bad from all those step classes, and who has time to think about football?

This morning I saw the following post on my son's Facebook page, written by a female friend of his: "I finally figured out my spirit animal." Two things interested me: First, her use of the word "finally," inferring that the issue had occupied her thoughts for some time, and second, realizing in a flash that I had no idea that we have spirit animals and now I'm wondering what mine is.

How do I find out? Does it matter? What matters, really?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Do, or Do I?

Marriage has its good points and its bad. The good:
1. Always having a ride to and from the airport.
2. That second income, or in my case, the first.
3. Comfort in a storm.

Oops, scratch number three. My husband has gone out into a raging blizzard--dubbed "the storm of the century" by some overzealous TV weathermen-- for no good reason. The news reports advise the citizenry to "stay in your home," advice I am happily following. It's beautiful to look at--the snow coming down hard and the wind whipping it into a frothy frenzy--but certainly not great driving weather, I would bet.

Alas, the poor man is addicted to exercise and he has gone to the gym. I suppose it could be worse, and in fact it has been: my first husband was a druggie. Nevertheless, albeit because of a healthier choice, I am still waiting by the window, well past the hour of his expected return, hoping his car appears in the whiteout but imagining it in a ditch on the side of the road, flashing hazard lights unseen by all the smart people who did stay home.

So here's my point: Be careful who you marry. The annoying relatives are just the tip of the iceberg.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why We Can't Have a Female President

It's sad, really. Imagine being a world leader on the international stage-- having your ideas actually listened to and perhaps acted upon--and still you worry about your hair. This unfortunate circumstance is the one currently affecting Hillary Clinton, who seems caught somewhere even worse than between a rock and a hard place: below the ears and above the shoulders.

It shouldn't matter, but it does: women and their hair is a big deal--at least to other women. But our current Secretary of State has made her hairdo newsworthy by showing up here, there and everywhere with a different look. Among the worst was last September when she she wore a plastic hair clip to a U. N. meeting with world leaders, mostly men, none of whom wore hair clips. (Not a single one!)

See, this is what happens when women get into power: All hell breaks loose.