Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why I Have High Blood Pressure

My doc says it's not salty foods, it's anxiety. He says to relax. I try. But then things make me nuts, like the phone conversation I had at 9 AM this morning when I called the hair salon in search of a product. I report it to you here verbatim:

"Good morning, Hair Gallery, how may I help you?"
"Yes, hi, good morning. I was wondering if you have any Moroccan Oil in stock, you know the stuff with the blue label and the big red M? I need the oil, the small size."
"We carry a full line of their products, what exactly are you looking for?"
"Oh, I thought I said...the oil. The small one, because I'm flying tomorrow and..."
"Ma'am, Moroccan Oil is the name of the product line."
"Yes, that's because they make that great oil, which is what I want, and I need the small size because I am flying to Texas tomorrow and my hair will frizz uncontrollably, and you know they don't let you through security with more than three ounces of liquid so..."
"Yes, fine, I see we do have it in both the large 4 oz. size as well as the smaller size. Which size do you need?"

Which for some reason reminded me of that old joke: If we had ham, we could have ham and cheese sandwiches...if we had cheese.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Trouble with Liberals

Some of my best friends are liberals--well, two of them, anyway--and I gotta say, they are a nutty bunch! They are so sensitive, and ready for a fight at the slightest hint of a different point of view. What's up with that? They are also always on the lookout for racism, which they see lurking behind every negative comment about a black person, essentially making it impossible to ever criticize a person of color.

Well, guess what-- I detest Oprah Winfrey, and not because she's black. It's because I have never seen anything special in any way about anything she does, and I believe she manipulates and exploits the willing public for her own personal gain. Which reminds me: She's fat, but she got thin several times to much fanfare, including dragging a wagonload of real fat onstage to show just how much she had lost, but then she got fat again, and since so many people want to be fat and stay fat, she is their goddess. She is the Goddess of Fatness! And she was abused as a child, and since so many people had unhappy childhoods themselves, they can relate, so she is also the Goddess of Child Abuse!

Lest you think I am a racist, I will list some of the black people I believe to be true gods and goddesses who walk (or have walked) among us: Gregory Hines, Smokey Robinson, Denzel Washington, all of the original Persuasions, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald....can I stop now? Is that enough, or do I have to love Oprah to not be considered a racist? If I think Whoopie Goldberg is a disaster and Bill Cosby is an old fool, am I a racist? How about if I say Morgan Freeman makes my skin crawl....racist? But I loved Jesse Jackson (back in the old days), and I think Chris Rock is a hoot, so maybe I'm not a racist after all.

There are some white people I dislike as much as Oprah: Conan O'Brien, Justin Timberlake, Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie, Wolf Blitzer, Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, Chris Matthews, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Dan Quayle, and naturally the devil incarnate Keith Olbermann... is that enough? Can I stop now? Because there are more, but you've probably never heard of them....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Three Appalling Things

1. I have gotten married twice, and neither time involved a guest list. Ditto flowers, musicians, caterers or a wedding gown. What's all that stuff got to do with it? Seems to me you need a bride, a groom and some witnesses, perhaps a bottle of champagne or two, and of course the ordained whatever to perform the ceremony. So naturally I am appalled at the spectacle of the upcoming Royal Wedding in England.

2. I never doubted that President Obama was born in this country. In fact, I don't care if he was born in Brooklyn, I still don't like the guy. However, the fact that he presented his birth certificate to the press should have ended the matter. But no: Tonight's CNN news report offered viewers "a look back" at the "media circus" over the "birther issue." They don't get it--they are the media circus! Their lack of insight would be laughable, were it not so appalling.

3. President Obama was not invited to the Royal Wedding because he is not royalty himself, or some such convoluted nonsense. Whatever the reason, the fact that he will not be gassing up three huge jets to attend makes me less appalled to have him as president.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Early Morning TV

Unable to sleep because of a bad head cold, I finally got out of bed and turned on the television for some distraction. Here's what I found out:

The British government is spending 30 million dollars on security for the coming wedding of Prince Whatsit and his girlfriend. Could that really be true? Do they have that much money--and so many cops-- in England? Also, in case of bad weather, the couple will ride through the streets in a glass-topped carriage, the very same one used by Princess Di and Prince Charles. Following the ceremony between these two ordinary folks who go to the bathroom just like you and I, all church bells across London will peal for three hours.

Faith healer Peter Popoff is curing people with miracle spring water direct from God! Apparently just by rubbing the stuff on your hernia, you are cured. Testimony came from several believers: One woman drank it and instantly got a job after looking for work for many years. After a lifetime of paralysis, an older lady jumped up from her wheelchair from ingesting the stuff, and one couple even "got" their dream home right after they started using the water! I'm betting Mr. Popoff gets a lot from that water too.

Mesothelioma is apparently rampant in our society, and is killing all of our loved ones. Several law firms specialize in suing whoever is responsible.

Many people with diabetes still want to eat cake, candy, cookies and ice cream, despite the fact that it is potentially toxic for them to do so. Now, just by ordering a special Diabetic Cook Book, they can eat bad foods all the time, at least according to the pitch woman who was Miss America in 1999 and has been a diabetic her whole life. She was on the chubby side and looked quite healthy, so obviously those recipes really do the trick.

The best thing I learned: In England, they say "if it does bucket down" when they mean if it rains. Cute.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Where's Rush Limbaugh?

Okay, it's official now, so all of you who secretly thought this but were afraid to admit it can shout it from the rooftops: According to the latest news, Amy Poehler is among the 100 most influential leaders, thinkers, artists and heroes in the whole world! That's right, little Amy Poehler, the ex-Saturday Night Live comedienne who was never as funny as Gilda but way better than who's on there now, is included on the list just released by TIME, which is aptly called The TIME 100. Who knew she was so influential, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Justin Bieber-- and God knows we all look to him for advice on life, after all he has been at it for like 17 years.

Then again, I'm such a dork, living way the hell up here in Maine--a place where influential people often summer but never live--that out of the 100 on the list there are 90 I've never even heard of, including Mia Wasikowska, Lamido Sanusi, and someone called Rain, which I stupidly have always thought--until now-- was a weather condition!  Also included are Prince Albert and his girlfriend Kate Middlemarch, whose upchucking wedding will probably spark a new song by Sir Elton John, who himself is not on the list despite encouraging many a young man to experiment with cross-dressing.

Also missing, despite his tremendous influence in the past year, is TV sitcom star Charlie Sheen, whose psychotic breakdown dominated the news for months and, if you ask me, is not over. But perhaps the most glaring omission, besides that of Rush Limbaugh who truly does influence people, is Sarah Palin, the faux-politician who started the Tea Party and thereby spawned Michele Bachmann, who is on the list.

Personally, I am influenced most by the two dead Beatles. Who are your heroes?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I May Be Old but I'm Not Deaf

I am already sick of being too old--sick of it, I tell you, and the worst part is, I'm just getting started. I'm not talking just about me, I'm talking about an entire generation, all those baby boomers I still consider to be the coolest people on Earth, but who, to Madison Avenue, are so much detritus, literally-- matter produced by the decay or disintegration of an organic substance. In the media, on TV, in advertising, in fact, everywhere you turn, everyone who is anyone is between the ages of 12 and 28, or wishes they were.

Even the Wall Street Journal, that once-staid financial newspaper read by grown-up bankers and CEOs, now stoops to conquer a younger readership. On today's front page, the banner above the fold hawks an inside story entitled: "School Reunions: Looking Successful is the Best Revenge." I expected a story about how best to show off your PhD. or your corner office or your huge mansion in Tuscany, but no: Instead I learned  that, to "ace the school reunion, it is suggested that women wear Herve Leger, a label known for snug bandage dresses that say sexy." Also, "there's nothing wrong with showing a hint of back and a great pair of legs." And finally--and this was a real shocker--"you should forgo hosiery because sometimes hosiery can age you." Hey, Mr. Idiot--everyone at the reunion already knows how old you are! (And what is he suggesting: no undies?)

I finally realized that the article was about reunions for people who graduated like yesterday, not in the last century. Enough already, I get it--youth sells. But hey-- as Vegetable Lasagna said to Elaine in that great Seinfeld episode, "I can hear you!" So please, tone it down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Remains of the Day

Those nutty 9/11 folks just can't let go. It will be ten years this September --and you can just imagine what will go on to mark that anniversary--since the attacks that shook the world, or at least lower Manhattan, and still the folks who have made this their raison d'etre since then are pissed off that "9,000 human remains are still unidentified or unclaimed."

Remember that while 2,749 people died at the World Trade Center that day, according to the Museum Ethics Panel, which is composed of experts in the field--don't ask what field--"1,123 families have received no remains at all." Imagine!

Not sure how others feel, but if one of my loved ones died that day, I doubt that learning his or her thumb or ear or femur or whatever has been identified ten years later in that big box of remains is going to make my day. I say move on already--dead is dead, what's the obsession with saving all those blown-to-smithereens body parts?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is This Racist?

I wonder if just posting a photo of Obama on the same page as a photo of a chimpanzee is considered to be racist. If you ask me, both he and George W. bear a strong resemblance to the chimp shown above, who, truth be told, looks more thoughtful than either of them.

I thought of this because there's a dust-up on the Internet concerning an emailed photo depicting Obama as a baby chimp. The dimwit who sent it happens to be a Republican party official in Orange County, so naturally ALL REPUBLICANS ARE RACISTS!

I draw a different conclusion: All Orange County residents are morons. (Have you been there?)

Working for a Living

I have read that our earliest memory, or even what we believe to be our earliest memory, carries a lot of information about how we see the world. If it's a dark thought, we are pessimistic and fearful as adults; if it's happy, we've turned out to be cheery and optimistic, blah blah blah. I am beginning to think that the same thing applies to our first job--an experience that imprints us with a lasting impression of the work world.

In my 15th summer, my father, a salesman for a dry cleaning equipment and supply company, "pulled some strings" and got me a job at Busy Bee Cleaners in Baldwin, New York. He warned me that the only way he would "use his connections" was if I promised to work there for the whole summer. Eager for a taste of freedom, I agreed.

My job at Busy Bee, from 9 in the morning until 5 in the evening, was stamping each customer's name onto the inside of each collar of every shirt brought in for cleaning. I did this in a room located at the bottom of a laundry chute, into which the delivery trucks emptied their daily haul. The shirts cascaded down into a big pile. I took each one, one by one, placed it into the label machine, spelled out the name and pushed the stamping mechanism forward. Had I lasted more than three days at this task, I would have had some mighty toned upper arms. Alas, not.

The cleaning establishment had no air conditioning. The room was in the basement. Just writing this is making me anxious. I am going out for a walk.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Have a Sustainable Passover

I grew up in a religious Jewish family. Every other day, it seemed, was a holiday requiring me to either stay home from school and stare at the ceiling or get dressed up and walk the mile to Temple (in heels, which I hated and now looking back seems like child abuse) to atone for my sins. Depending on the holiday I would find myself starving all day or consuming piles of prune danish.

Passover was different, involving two amazing feasts prepared by my grandmother, each one attended by at least 20 relatives who I saw only annually or at the occasional funeral. It was always fun to see my cousins--especially one who got fatter every year and his skinny brother who was most likely binging and purging, and another who was two years older than I and handsome and who I secretly had a crush on. The older generation was also a hoot, starring nutty Aunt Harriet who, born a spinster, brought me the same gift each year: a bunch of rubber-banded colored pencils she stole from her bookkeeping job at a Brooklyn deli. Uncle Lefty was another oddball who always told the exact same jokes, sometimes in the same evening, and expected you to laugh anew when you hadn't even laughed the first time.

But the true star of the show was the food, the likes of which has never been seen since my grandmother died, and replaced with a trendier, more sustainable Passover seder featuring grass-fed this, organic that and fair-trade the other. Hey, if there's no artery-clogging brisket or matzoh ball soup with fat globules floating on top, I am simply not interested!

Tonight my husband and I--alone now, since all the elders who ran the show are dead--will celebrate the holiday as best we can. Clinging to the past, Mitch wants me to roast a chicken, but I'm pushing for sushi. Either way, in a bow to tradition we will surely drink a lot of red wine, recline sometime during Mitch's endless homily about our ancestors' escape from Egypt, and pray that we won't burn in Hell forever for not selling all our bread for a penny.

To all my Jewish friends: Have a zissen Pesach!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Calling a Spade "a Spade"

I admit it: I am fairly confused about the abortion issue, which seems to crop up every election season and then go into hibernation for another four years. What confuses me is how people talk about it in veiled language that pretties up the harsh reality. Why do they? After all, we call the death sentence a death sentence, not a "sleep forever" sentence or a "permanent nap," which by the way could actually catch on. Yet we insist on saying silly things like "a woman's right to choose" when we mean killing an unborn child. And how can someone being "pro-life" ever be a bad thing? Sounds good to me--hey, I'm all for life.

If we could just say what we mean, that might help many people, some even dumber than I, understand and then decide which side of the abortion issue they are on. And perhaps Planned Parenthood, which actually helps people arrange for un-parenthood, should change it's name to Abortions R Us.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Real Bears Don't Use Toilet Paper

Certain products simply should not be advertised, and the adult diaper is one of them. (Ditto tampons, sanitary pads, prostate problems--just shut up about them!)  I recently got a glimpse of an Internet ad for those dismal doilies, with the tag line, "Step into color." There, hanging in space like a UFO, was a large, purple diaper big enough for Fred Flintstone.

No offense to all the people out there who are incontinent--and no, that does not mean you have never been to Europe-- but please, that's your problem. Who knows, it may be mine any minute, but you can damn well bet that when and if I need Depends, I won't feel any better about the situation because they now come in colors. No, not at all.

Another is toilet paper. Yes, we all use it and yes, it's a good thing, but do we need to have people explaining that the best brands "keep us clean" while also keeping our hands clean? By the way, in many countries they actually use their hands for that purpose, so there goes that argument. As for those pink and blue toilet paper-using cartoon bears prancing around in the woods--what are we, a nation of morons?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

California Dreamin'

Hey, PR people, here's a news flash: Most regular folks, myself included, do not care who Jenifer Aniston is dating. Truth be told, we don't care if Jenifer Aniston lives the rest of her days as a lonely celibate. We also don't care who was just named what by whom, or which actress is in rehab or what actor went on a drunken tirade.

Usually I ignore these things, even though they are shoved down my throat each time I log on to my computer. But just the other day an item did snag my attention, and was later reinforced on the TV news As If It Matters: Catherine-Zeta Jones, an actress I have never seen perform but who I know is married to Michael Douglas, recently revealed that she "spent time in a mental health facility for an undisclosed problem." Turns out she suffers from bipolar disorder, which is indeed a very serious disorder as disorders go, yet she was cured in just five days. I know several people who have battled that disease for a lifetime, but in less than a week, she's all better!

The next time I'm depressed, I'm going straight to Hollywood.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Obama's Worst Nightmare

Come on. Really? These are our choices for president? Yawn.

What is "the president" anyway, and why should we care? In a recent (staged) news photo showing Obama running up the steps of the Capitol, or was it the Lincoln Memorial--he looked like such a dork: Too skinny, big ears. I certainly don't look up to him at all--why would I? Just because he decided that's what he wanted to do with his life? And now some other wonky, insecure power hungry egomaniacs want to try to do it too. (Naturally they are all Republicans because no Democrat is allowed to try since their guy is currently in the outhouse, I mean big house, I mean White House.)

Here's a quick look at who they are and why Obama will be re-elected:
1. Sarah Palin (oh please)
2. Mitt Romney (not my type but looks good for his age, but still a Mormon)
3. Mike Huckabee (as silly as his name sounds, and have you noticed he is starting to pork up again after losing like 200 pounds a few years ago?)
4. Donald Trump (is this a dream?)
5. Michele Bachmann (hair)
6. Tim Pawlenty (I forget)
7. Bobby Jindal (ethnic, almost as good as black but not quite)
8. Newt Gingrich (old, fat, over)

Now imagine, instead, if Obama had some real competition:
1. Rush Limbaugh (that got you going)
2. Juan Williams (the TV reporter guy, he is so smart and he's all black!)
3. Hillary Clinton (now everybody likes her)
4. Jeb Bush (sure would pep things up)
5. Al Gore (whatever happened to him?)
6. Rudy Giuliani (9/11)
7. Denzel Washington (I said imagine)
8. Chris Christie (let's hear it for the fat guy)

Who would you vote for?

The Real Donald

He was born in 1934, and although attempts to locate a bona fide birth certificate have failed, that has never stopped anyone from becoming president before and it certainly shouldn't now. Despite the fact that he will be 78 at the start of his administration, he is timeless, ageless and beloved by all on both sides of the aisle. I am talking about the other Donald, the original Donald, the better Donald: Donald Duck.

By all accounts, Donald's dominant personality trait is his short temper, which is an interesting contrast to his positive outlook on life. He begins each day in a happy mood--almost without a care in the world-- until something or someone comes along and rains on his parade. His quick temper has caused him great suffering, and he has often lost competitions because of it. But Donald's aggressive nature is a double-edged sword, and while it sometimes is a handicap, it has also helped him in times of need. When facing a threat, Donald may get frightened and even intimidated, but rather than running away, he gets mad! He has battled ghosts, sharks and mountain goats, always coming out on top; surely he can take on Osama bin Laden, Gadhafi and all those quacks at CNN.

Put some animation into our staid and stuffy political system and vote for The Real Donald in 2012--and remember: The only reason Man is at the top of the evolutionary list is because he wrote the list!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Voice of the People

Everyone knows it takes all kinds, and Facebook is one place where evidence of that is front and center: Some people "Like" this while others "Like" that. As of this morning, 57,470 people "Like" Swiffer, which is not even a person but a mop.

Sure, I'm bitter, and with good reason: Only 92 people "Like" my consignment shop fan page, and exactly 0 people "Like" my personal blog! How am I to feel when a mop is so much more popular than I am? Bad, that's how. But then, I have never been very popular, even though I have many outstanding attributes, which is why I will have to work so much harder than the average candidate to win the hearts and minds of the American people in my upcoming presidential campaign. Taking that into consideration, I have decided to name Swiffer as my running mate instead of Mitch Rouda, as smart as he is. Obviously the American people have connected in a deep way to Swiffer, and that can only help me at the polls.

If we are elected, Swiffer will replace Joe Biden, the current VP. Right away we will see differences: My guy has better hair. Also, he will never put his foot in his mouth like Biden often does, since he has neither. As for Mitch Rouda, he will be upgraded to Secretary of State.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Vote for Me and I'll Give You This Puppy!

After the bar was lowered so many years ago by Bill "Blow Me" Clinton, every Tom, Dick and Harriet feels qualified to run for the highest office in our land. This year's hopefuls include Donald "Windbag" Trump and Michele "Hairspray" Bachmann leading the pack of would-be opponents of our current esteemed leader, Barack "Hussein" Obama, who may or may not be an actual American. Close behind are Mitt "Pretty Boy" Romney and Mike "White Bread" Huckabee, neither of whom elicits anything but ennui in the soul of the average voter.

The saddest part is that so many bright and knowledgeable born leaders are everywhere you look, except in the Republican Party. As for the Tea Party---oh please. With that in mind, I have decided to announce my intention to run as an Independent. It's early yet, but I have begun to rough out a few of the key points of my platform:

1. Voting will be restricted to intelligent people only; this would be determined through a short questionnaire. For example, anyone who answers yes to the question, "Did you recently buy a ticket to see Charlie Sheen perform live onstage?" would be prohibited. Ditto those people who say "all intensive purposes" instead of "all intents and purposes."
2. During my administration, trucks will be banned from all Interstate highways during daylight hours, allowing Americans to once again enjoy travel freely as our Founding Fathers surely intended.
3. Once elected, I will continue to live in my own home and use the White House strictly as an entertainment venue, which is pretty much what it is now but without the 200 servants, whose combined salaries should make a significant dent in our national deficit.

I know it's not much, but The Donald is running on "Where is Obama's birth certificate?" and Michele is out there spouting, "Whatever Sarah says, me too!" At least I've given you something concrete to consider. And I'll tell you right now, my running mate is Mitch Rouda, and he is very smart about politics, world history, current events, that whole Middle East mess, the economy--all that stuff I know nothing about. (I am however a great cook and would share my recipes with the general public.) Together we'll make a great ticket.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

Yesterday I quit my 48th job. This one was a volunteer position at the local community center's food pantry where I began working 18 months ago with the hope of actually doing some good. Perhaps I did, but the overwhelming result of the experience was an increased and intense dislike of BMWs, which in these parts does not stand for luxury cars but rather for Big Maine Women. Besides, giving away doughnuts and cream pies and canned pork and Spaghetti-Os to the mildly disadvantaged but hugely obese is a far cry from feeding those babies with distended stomachs you see in UNICEF advertisements.

Quitting a job has always come easy to me. I do it at the exact moment of realizing that the particular workplace environment is detrimental to my mental health and/or personal growth. Life is too short to give half of it away for no reward beyond a paycheck.

So now it's on to the next adventure. My husband is quite impressed with my employment resume and thinks I should write a book documenting my experiences, starting from my first job at a dry cleaning establishment stamping customers' names onto the inside of shirt collars and including the endless tales of bad bosses, workplace affairs, unfair employment practices and water cooler stories. I just might.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Movie Mayhem

"Fatal Attraction" has been on my Top 10 list since its release in 1987. I wanted to see it again but real life intervened with the birth of my son a month later, and soon enough movies about princesses and forest creatures became a household staple. I remember loving the film not for its message, which is if you stray from your marriage your life will suck from that day forward, but for the interior decorating. The film's true star is a Manhattan apartment to die for which eventually matures into a shabbily chic estate in Connecticut that Martha Stewart would envy. The film's prop master had my exact taste in home furnishings, so it was fun to see how I might have lived had I married a rich New York lawyer.

And so last night, home alone with a bottle of vino, I settled in for a good time with a rented DVD. While it was a treat to see the young Michael Douglas pre-Catherine Zeta Jones, I gotta say: Wow, what a mess that movie is! Hello, Continuity--is anybody home? One minute it's autumn with golden leaves glowing, the next minute it's spring and all is bright green, then two frames later there's Santa's sleigh on a bare-treed lawn. Look--now it's 7:15 PM by the clock but still total daylight, yet it can't be summer because everyone's breath shows up in the air which only happens when it's really cold outside, except folks in the background are wearing shorts. The hands never move on the clocks in several scenes, so I guess time stands still in Hollywood. And that's just a fraction of the obvious errors, which include visible booms and reflected cameramen. With a list of credits a mile long at the end of the movie, you'd think someone on staff would spot those errors before calling it done.

Anyway, it's still a great movie despite the sloppy editing, and one of the very few where I could stomach Glenn Close. In fact, she utters one of my all-time favorite movie lines, which I use often: "I'm not going to be ignored, Dan!" Try saying it out loud--it is so cool, and a great way to end an argument, even if the person is not named Dan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pauper's Paranoia

The radical lefties talk, act and think as if people are either born rich or born poor and stay that way. They talk, act and think about how our elected (by the people!) politicians "hand money over to the wealthy" in the form of tax cuts, as if for some reason they want to curry favor with only rich people. Why would they? Everyone votes, regardless of income, so what's the motive... a fancy dinner invitation?

This paranoia is now running rampant here in Maine where the recently elected (by the people!) Republican governor, Paul LePage, is being accused of doing things to help the rich and hurt the poor. I wonder, just what is his motive? A few thoughts:

1. While some people are indeed born rich and others are indeed born poor, anyone can become rich in America through hard work or become poor through mismanagement of funds. (Consider all the winners of lottery jackpots who sped through huge sums on their way to poverty.)
2. Regardless of how much they have left over to enjoy and spend on yachts and caviar and Kobe beef and tummy tucks, the rich pay the most taxes. This is simple math: If a rich man has $100 and pays 33% to taxes, that's $33.00. If a poor man has only $50 and pays 10% to taxes, that's $5.00. Even if the rich guy gets a tax break from one of those politicians and pays only 10% to taxes, the same rate as the poor guy, that's $10, still more than the poor guy. Should the rich guy be penalized for working harder and generating more income, coincidentally stimulating the economy with all his spending and possibly employing thousands of people?
3. Rich people are constantly giving away huge sums of their money to fund things that poor people enjoy, like hospitals and public parks and schools and cancer research, while poor people take and take and take and take and want more, more, more and complain and whine and snivel and......

I look forward to someone explaining this to me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Billion Dollars!!

If you have a job and you're doing it well, when your contract comes up for renewal you're probably not too worried about being kept on, I would imagine. In fact, I don't have to imagine since I have been in that exact situation myself and was never very stressed. Always, I maintained my position of employment without having to do anything extraordinary, like say RAISE AND SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS to keep my job, which is what our fearless leader, the current president of the United States, announced today he has every intention of doing. Guess he's not so sure we want him back, huh?

Obama would get my vote, for the first time, if instead of spending that ridiculously unfathomable amount of cash on a fawning campaign staff and TV commercials and lawn signs and robo-calls and posters and buttons and bumper stickers and junk mail and newspaper advertisements and gassing up Air Force One to fly all over the country to attend bean suppers and church picnics and town hall meetings, during the work day natch, he spent that money on feeding the poor and housing the homeless.

A. Billion. Dollars.

A Teachable Moment

There's all this talk lately about unions and tenure and how mediocre teachers are rewarded because of the length of time they have taught, blah, blah, blah. It's all a crock, if you ask me. What's a good teacher, anyway? Students are driven by internal combustion and parental encouragement. The dumb ones learn nothing regardless of how great the teacher is, and the smart ones learn what they want when they're good and ready and not a moment before.

I have been a teacher twice in my life, not counting when I taught sailing at a day camp in my teens, a short-lived assignment because of a freak storm that whipped up out of nowhere and capsized our boat. On dry land I taught a sixth-grade art class in Salt Lake City and a design course at an art college in Washington, D.C. In all three instances I gave it my all, but I doubt that anyone remembers a damn thing I said, except for maybe "hold on to the boat!"

Besides the one or two male teachers I had crushes on, and Mademoiselle Zelda Penzel for French--her name was fun to say--none of my high school teachers made an impact. In college I had an entire semester with a highly esteemed famous guy, Conor Cruise O'Brien. The Irish writer, politician, historian and academic taught something called Humanities; I recall nothing at all about the class or the man, and no I did not smoke pot in college. The only teacher I do remember from my NYU days was a very wild painting professor named Robert Kaupelis, who was given to wearing Hawaiian shirts. He invited me to attend a Greenwich Village "happening" to be held in a small theater, and warned me to sit in the back. I did as he suggested and was glad of it since the proceedings onstage included the slaughter of a live pig, splattering blood on the occupants of the first three rows.

Now that was good advice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Dead Animals

Poet T. S. Eliot described April as the cruelest month. He may have been onto something.

We're back at our "other house" after a spell, and things need tending: The toilets tend to keep running without vigorous handle-jiggling, the new heater makes a lot of noise--too much?-- and the kitchen porch needs painting. These are all trivial matters to be expected in a 170-year-old property, but two things are more than a little disturbing: The first is the obvious lack of Rufus, our schnauzer who didn't make it through the winter to enjoy another spring in the country. Everywhere we look we see him running around, sniffing excitedly at all the singular smells and sneaking off to the horse paddock to do his business in private. The other is the half-eaten deer just beyond the swimming pool fence.

Naturally, being at heart city folks, we are grossed out by the sight and wonder what to do in order to get the carcass out of our view, certainly by the time we open the pool this year. But secretly I am caught up with thoughts of how he died, so close to the house. Was he being chased? Not likely, since he'd be the biggest thing in our jungle. Did he have a heart attack, or was he just old and ready to go? Was it perhaps Bambi's mother, who rightly warned against Man's return to the forest? Worse yet, was it Bambi?

Sometimes the circle of life is a little too evident.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Just Don't Tell Anyone

A teacher in Paterson, New Jersey was recently suspended for writing on her Facebook page that she "felt like a warden overseeing future prisoners." Ditto a teacher in Pennsylvania for posting on her blog that her students were "disengaged, lazy whiners." In both instances they were most probably right on target, but everyone knows that being politically correct has little to do with speaking the truth.

Luckily I am not a teacher and so I can say, without fear of reprisals, that most high-schoolers are indeed lazy whiners and most students in impoverished ghetto neighborhoods like Paterson will indeed turn to crime after they drop out of high school and go straight to prison.

I have no solutions, only questions: Instead of trying to stuff a sock into the mouths of teachers honestly reporting societal ills, why not focus on fixing the problems that continue to cause the situation? And how does forcing a teacher to stay home, with pay mind you thanks to those strong unions, punish the teacher or help the students? Once again our misguided education system rears its ugly head, while potential saviors like former Washington, D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee are silenced by the mob. Should she have said nothing, done nothing, just to keep her job?

Friday, April 1, 2011

All Trumped Up

Something bad has happened to the country, and I think Bill Clinton did it. Seriously. I know he's a nice enough gent these days, and I don't even despise him anymore, but still, I hold him utterly responsible for the following hideous fact: Donald Trump is going to run for president in 2012. Worse yet, he may win! Back when Bill blew his saxophone on TV, and then later was blown himself by Monica Lewinsky, the office of the president lost some of its, shall we say, luster, leading anybody and everybody to think they can do the job.

Imagine The Donald, with his hair and his trophy wife and his trophy ex-wife and his trophy daughter, in the White House. As I like to say in these situations, oy vay.  But what is the presidency these days, anyway? I have long believed that we should do away with the office entirely and let the Cabinet and Congress continue doing what they do, which is all the work. The president--along with the missus and the kids--seems to serve as a human action figure, someone for the little people to look up to. Who needs it?

Abolishing the office of president could result in a pretty penny for the American people; it might even help reduce our deficit. Take the luxury airplanes, the White House and Camp David and put them to good use. Turn the White House into a homeless shelter--it's already right there in downtown D.C., with potential occupants ranting and raving just across the street in Lafayette Square. Camp David would make a great summer camp for urban kids who would never get out of the ghetto otherwise. As for that other stuff--Air Force One and decoy Air Force One and the third one they use to transport the president's bulletproof limo, and the bulletproof limo itself---just melt those babies down and make lots of other stuff out of them.

I'm betting that without all the perks, The Donald wouldn't even want to run.

Only (April) Fools Worry

For the last two days I have worried about an impending snowstorm that has failed to impend. Now, being a true American, I'm wondering who I can sue for my mental anguish. A huge "Nor'easter" was predicted to hit and bring feet of snow to my town of Freeport, Maine. As luck would have it, my husband and I were headed out of town to Rhinebeck, New York for a long weekend---but wait a minute-- the snow would be even worse there!

The night before our departure I could barely sleep, imagining our potentially horrific drive through the Berkshires: Mitch and I would surely slide into a ditch on the Mass Turnpike, or rather off the Mass Turnpike! I dreaded leaving my cats behind at home, where power outages were already being predicted from the sure-to-be wet and heavy snow accumulating on the trees and breaking limbs and downing wires! My cats would be alone in a cold dark house for four days! The neighborhood girl who comes to feed them wouldn't be able to make it there through the falling tree limbs and icy weather conditions! Friends called with new snow totals: four to eight, six to twelve, up to 20 inches!

We made the drive without so much as a raindrop hitting the windshield. (Phew--dodged a bullet!) Yet my sleep was troubled a second night as the storm was reportedly still on its way! I awoke at 5 AM and ran to the window like a school kid hoping for a snow day....and saw about half an inch of white stuff, on the grass only, with snow tapering off. Now those very same weather folks are saying, never mind, it's just a little wet snow turning to rain in a few hours, just some slush with mild temps in the high 40's and what a beautiful weekend we have coming....

Guess I'm the April fool.