Monday, October 31, 2011

A Kouple of Krazy Kids

No-visible-talent celebrity Kim Kardashian and her groom Kris are calling it quits--or should I say kalling it kwits-- just 72 days after taking their vows at a wedding that reportedly cost $20 million and which was covered by the fawning press and attended by consenting adults who must have found it an appropriate way to spend an evening. In light of our bleak economy, starving poor and protesting middle class, the sheer waste of money that was squandered on catering, flowers, photographers, dresses, tuxedos and musicians, and a giant place to stick it all, is breathtaking in scope. On the plus side, they certainly stimulated the economy in their neck of the woods that day.

Despite Kim saying she had "hoped the marriage was forever," the divorce is allegedly fueled by an irreconcilable difference of insurmountable size: the two disagreed on where to live. Kris wanted to settle in Minnesota to be near his family and Kim planned to set up shop in California to be near her sisters Kourtney and Khloe and her mom, Kris, not to mention to continue raking in big bucks for willingly sharing her big butt and big boobs with the captivated, albeit moronic, public. I for one am thankful the marriage is ending so soon, saving us from the constant updates of her unhappiness and his philandering, then of her baby bump and his one-night stands, eventually leading to her bad body and his sexual harassment and a rape charge from the nanny. Best of all, we are spared pictures of and stories about little Kandy or Karol or Katy or Kevin or Kira or Kendra or Karl...see, there is a God after all.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy This

Imagine the doorbell rings and you answer it to find a plastic bag containing a long, black wig. You have no idea who wore it, but it's obviously been worn. It sort of smells funny from years of sweat or washings or storage in musty places. I know I would be freaked out and throw it in the trash immediately. I might even carry the trash out to the street, that's how freaked out I would be. Now imagine you are at an auction and bidding on celebrity detritus where that same wig, once the property of singer Michael Jackson, goes for $60,000. The person who buys it takes it home and.....does what with it? Perhaps places it on a shelf next to "the glove," which went for $275,000.

The fact that there are so many rich people who have so little idea of what to do with all their money is infuriating. Instead of whining about evil bankers and mean old Republicans, those would-be hippies and parroting protesters should Occupy Hollywood. Or Central Park West, Malibu, Vail, Chevy Chase and Shaker Heights! Occupy The Hamptons! Occupy Beverly Hills and Orange County! Occupy any or all of Barbra Streisand's five homes! Go camp out on the lawn of a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, where the people inside the iron gates actually have the money made on Wall Street!

Now that's a revolution.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

This morning, while engaging in my usual coffee/newspaper/web surfing ritual to arm myself for the day, I stumbled upon the following advice from somebody called the Energy Muse: "Cut off nine round pieces of orange peel from one orange to carry with you when you go out on Halloween. In the east, nine is considered the luckiest number and the strong scent of the orange will keep you alert. Bright orange is the color for protection."  

Who knew? I hardly ever wear anything bright orange--who does except crossing guards-- and I rarely carry orange peel when I go out, on Halloween or any other day, so it's little wonder bad things happen to me all the time. This is where the Internet comes in so handy. And lest you think I am being sarcastic, I am not; I am actually irked that I have gotten this old and never heard this ancient wisdom from any one of my ancestors who told me plenty of other "truths" which have proven to be false.

My grandfather always said that if I held my nose when I sneezed, the top of my head would blow right off. That never happened. The weird thing is, I now tell my son the same thing and actually worry when I see him doing it. That same grandfather warned that if I left a splinter in my finger or toe or wherever it was, the little piece of wood would travel around my body and end up in my stomach where a tree would start growing. This too has not happened to me yet, but since I always leave splinters in unless they are sticking way out, I sometimes worry about an unexplained tummy ache--is it starting?

My father insisted that if a light remained on in an empty room for more than five minutes, the light bulb would explode. I still think this and while I know it is technically not true I have certainly saved money on electricity over the years, although my husband grew up in a non-exploding-light bulb family and so I have to follow him around the house most of the time lest our home burns to the ground. My mother said that going outside with wet hair in the winter causes pneumonia, and my older sister repeatedly reminded me that she knew for a fact I was left in a basket on our front steps by Gypsies.

Other things I heard as a child have proved false as well, and not just all the regular stuff about Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the whole "all men are created equal" thing.  For example, many Germans are really nice, some Jews are just as dumb as everyone else and all penises are not the same size when erect. So now I'm wondering if that orange peel thing works with tangerines--an orange is such a commitment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Money Isn't Everything

Back when my son was in nursery school I had a philosophical debate with Cindy Hibberts, his very wonderful, if misguided, teacher. She insisted that each child have the same amount of time riding the one little tricycle available during recess. One day a youngster was happily tooling around the playground when suddenly Cindy clapped her hands loudly and yelled out, "Okay Will, get off the bike now, it's Julia's turn." Naturally Will, being only three, began to cry, and with good reason: he was having such a good time! I asked Cindy why he had to stop when Julia could always do something else, like climb on the monkey bars or play in the sandbox. "No, everyone gets five minutes on the bike, that's it. His time is up," Cindy insisted, adding, "otherwise it wouldn't be fair." But life isn't like that, I argued. "It is here," she replied, carefully counting out one juice box, three cookies and five apple slices for each child's snack.

Soon enough I was having to explain to my son why that kid had a better bike or another kid won the spelling bee or why we weren't going skiing in Aspen over Christmas break. By the time he was in third grade, Zack had pretty much figured out that life isn't fair, despite all that phony-baloney nonsense at the start. Not everyone has been so insightful, most especially all those kids camping out at all the Occupy Wall Street playgrounds dotting the country. They're stuck with nursery school thinking. In fact, many adults did not get the memo that LIFE IS NOT FAIR and that some people have more than others. What's odd is that the public outrage concerning this cold, hard fact centers only on wealth, when the unfairness permeates other areas as well.

The truth of this hit me in the face last night while watching a TV interview with singer Harry Connick, Jr.  Not only is Connick extremely handsome and extraordinarily talented, but he's been happily married for almost 20 years to a former Victoria's Secret supermodel. Together they have three beautiful daughters, none of whom were born with spina bifida or cerebral palsy or Tay-Sachs or learning disorders or fatal flaws of any kind. They all live in a fabulous home in a pastoral Connecticut suburb, splitting their time between a nurturing family life and flying around the world to all sorts of exciting events. Harry works tirelessly for charity and since Hurricane Katrina has devoted himself to rebuilding his native city of New Orleans, where he grew up under the loving guidance of his father, the District Attorney, and his mother, a federal judge. Harry seems quite intelligent and has a great sense of humor, and besides singing he has acted in many movies and on TV.  Oh yeah, he is also extremely rich.

Now, think of a poor, fatherless child born with fetal-alcohol syndrome into an inner-city ghetto to an ugly, meth-addicted mother, living in a rat-and-roach-infested hole in the wall in a burned-out slum. Why just ask the government for money and health insurance--how about looks and talent and brains? Why not demand that Congress make everyone beautiful? Cosmetic surgery for all! Diet and exercise programs for the fat and out of shape! Free rehab for drug addiction! Tutors for dummies! Fix up my house! Make my sister smart and not nuts! In fact, I always wanted a brother...give me one!

Come on people, fair is fair.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Education for Dummies

The Amish, a cautious and thoughtful group of souls if nothing else, send their children to school only until the 8th grade, expecting that by then they've got the necessary smarts to live life. I couldn't agree more, and I'm not alone; many of today's most successful entrepreneurs quit college after just six months or a year, having decided that's it's little more than a carefully controlled dating service, not to mention a waste of time and money.

Sadly, the well-meaning parents of high-schoolers who will spend their so-called fortunes on this now five- or six-year hoax do so as well in preparation for it, making the education business quite enormous. There are SAT preparation courses and tutors and testing services, pre-tests and study guides. Even more costly than the insulting application fees to colleges, which can add up pretty quick when you're on a tight budget, are the college tours, requiring amazing amounts of travel for a minimum of two people including air fare, hotel rooms, gassed-up rental cars and restaurant meals, all so little Isabella or Jacob can settle into a place away from home where, surrounded by like-minded hedonists, they can smoke pot, binge drink, have sex and cut class to go Occupy Wall Street.

Granted, my dim view of higher education is not universally applicable; some students really do go to class and learn, and that's how come we have heart surgeons today. But I'm guessing the majority of college students are simply stalling for time, taking courses like "Introduction to Motown" and "Everyday Spanish" and putting off the day when they have to earn a living. My own son figured this out early on and left school--twice, in fact--because he was eager to get on with his real life. (I still meet people who shake their heads sadly when they learn that he did not "get his degree" and instead must use newspaper to line his bird cage.)

I hope I live long enough to see the whole college system come tumbling down, saving parents their life savings and freeing young people to contribute to our world four, five, six or eight years earlier. It's a thrilling thought.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's Scary Being Fat

I wrote a blog post last May called "Fear of Fat Trumps Fear of Death," which has remained ridiculously more popular than any post I have written before or since, getting ten times the number of hits daily. I wondered why and did some snooping around, and found that there is a book called "Overcoming Fear of Fat," which I am not going to read as I like being afraid of being fat and have no desire to get over it. Apparently I am not alone in this: "The fear of being fat is overwhelming,” said Dr. Deborah McPhail, an expert in health and obesity from Memorial University of Newfoundland. “Young girls have indicated they are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents.”

Personally, I would rather be fat than be in a nuclear war or have cancer. And while I would like to have my parents alive, by now they would be so old and likely require so much care that, were I fat, I would be hard-pressed to deliver, so I guess I'd rather be thin than have my parents alive. I would also choose being fat over having a tarantula loose in my home or having my child come to any harm. Otherwise, hold the gravy.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why We Love to Hate Steve Jobs

The better you are, the more everyone hates you. Sorry, that's just how it is.  If two people were drowning--say, Lindsay Lohan or any other beautiful and talented young actress, and a fat, unemployed homeless bum, 99 out of 100 people would save the bum. And since most people suffer from feelings of inferiority, objects of hatred are always in demand. A good person to hate is someone you will never meet, like movie stars, members of the royal family, any of the current crop of politicians or Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The latter, newly deceased, is fresh meat--much fresher than the likes of Palin or Pelosi--so the masses, including editors of all the increasingly emaciated magazines and newspapers, are busy feasting on his carcass.

Despite the fact that everyone and his mother has an iPad and an iMac and an iPhone and an iPad, and despite the fact that you can barely squeeze inside one of the nation's 357 insanely crowded Apple stores, Steve Jobs has become America's whipping boy since his death a couple of weeks ago. At first hailed by all as a hero, the natural backlash soon followed and everyone started hating him because he "made his products in Chinese sweat shops and paid the poor little little children only pennies! He was a very bad man! Sure, he was a genius who made your life better, but he was very nasty at staff meetings! He had a mean side!"

Oh shut up. If Jobs had paid more to have the damn things made, you wouldn't be reading this now on your Mac or your whatever, and I wouldn't be writing it on mine because we couldn't afford them. Besides, those who took those jobs did so willingly and were most likely grateful to have them. The plain truth is that in today's envy-based culture, successful, beautiful, intelligent and thin people are despised by the stupid or fat or ugly failures among us; it's called jealousy. This is not new: I can still remember high school, back in the last century, when the prettiest girls in our class, many of them very nice people, were always being whispered about by the rest of us: They were bitches! They were really dumb! They were sleeping with our math teacher! Oops, that's another blog--but you get my point. The next time you hate someone, ask yourself why.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

IMHO, You Suck!

The Internet is a wild place where anonymous strangers, and sometimes close family members, butt heads and come to virtual blows over things that have little to do with them personally. While I find this odd, I too have been caught hurling insults at total strangers. I'm not proud, but that's the truth; some statements just drive me crazy-- and you too. Despite doing yoga, practicing meditation or taking Valium, several of the following statements will spark a vitriolic argument in almost everyone, while most of the others will produce little more than a shrug or a nod. Only two are indisputable. Guess which ones are which:

1. Anchovies are the best pizza topping.
2. Rottweilers are inherently dangerous and should be outlawed.
3. Snow is lovely and makes everything look so pretty.
4. New York City certainly has a lot of traffic.
5. Mitt Romney is an honest man and a good leader.
6. The typical suburban dining room serves multiple purposes.
7. Watching "Dancing With the Stars" is better than watching "Cops."
8. Morbidly obese people are gross and lack self-control.
9. Miniature schnauzers are cute but they bark too much.
10. Carbohydrates contain a lot of sugar and thus contribute to weight gain.
11. Jews have made the most contributions to science and the arts.
12. Red is the strongest color in the spectrum.
13. Without a college education, your chances of success are very small.
14. Goods made in China are inferior to those made in Italy.
15. Consuming more calories then you expend will make you fat.
16. Crime is highest in cities because of the concentration of minorities.
17. Jesus Christ died for our sins.
18. America is the greatest country in the world.
19. Bald men are still considered attractive, while bald women rarely are.
20. Barack Obama will not be re-elected.
21. Facebook "friends" are not really friends.
22. The only way to drink coffee is strong and black.
23. Children should be seen and not heard.
24. Maybe Hillary Clinton had a face lift in order to run for president.
25. Blogs are dumb.

(Only #25 reflects the views of the management.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The CNN Logo Never Looked Better

For those of you who actually have interesting lives and did not watch the Republican candidates duke it out last night on TV, here's a recap. Amid much fanfare, CNN treated the event with the same sobriety it would afford any other important, world-shaping event like the MTV Awards or the Golden Globes or maybe America's Funniest Home Videos. There were logos! There was music! The lights, the graphics, oy vay it was so exciting! Then, after a word from several sponsors, the candidates were introduced, each one striding across the stage a la Miss America, waving to the wildly cheering crowd which must have been treated to drinks on the house beforehand.

There was Michele Bachmann, who blew a kiss to her fans. Next, Newt walked out and was all business, followed by Rick Perry who chose the oh-so-presidential "thumbs up" sign as his greeting. The rest of them followed suit--and speaking of suits, Ron Paul's was way too big for him and was obviously a rental. Host Anderson Cooper, scowling appropriately yet still tensing his impressive abs underneath his Italian silk suit and merlot-colored tie, gave the debate rules: A long question from him, giving him plenty of screen time, followed by a teeny tiny answer period for the candidates. And so it began:

1. Herman Cain is so over. Having soared to the top of the polls in recent days, the others all attacked him and his 9-9-9 tax plan. He tried to defend himself by talking about apples and oranges, hoping to get them off track and onto fruit salad, but to no avail. Goodbye Herman, we hardly knew ye.

2. Mitt Romney's chin looked bigger than ever, and it's a good thing since he had to take so much on it last night. At one point he looked like he might cry, but he pulled it together and maintained his dignity.

3. Villainous Rick Perry was the bully on the playground, pointing fingers at everyone. Looking even more pompous and puffed up, and never more like Sheriff Woody in "A Toy Story," he tried to score big by talking over Romney at every opportunity, and by leaking his own news that he has a "plan" that will fix everything, which he promised to unveil next week, if anyone still wants to hear it by then.

4. Michele Bachmann finally got the memo about her glossy, straightened, fancy hair being too distracting and so she wore it pulled tautly back in a bun so that we could see her ears, finally...I always wondered if she had any. Well, she does and they are considerable! She tried and failed to get equal camera time, desperately shrieking "Anderson, Anderson," several times. She did manage to shout out "Michele Bachmann dot com" once or twice. She wore white and looked quite virginal. Still with the long fingernails, however.

5. Ron Paul was smart and still too old, Newt Gingrich was even smarter and still too fat, and Rick Santorum was the bratty little know-it-all intent on shaming the grown-ups into being honest. He will make a great VP for someone.

I'm pretty sure any one of them would be better than Obama, including Anderson Coooper.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fire Up the Buggy

Ever since my recent visit to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I have been preoccupied with and fascinated by the Amish lifestyle. Were it not for a couple of sticking points, I would join the nearest community of these self-sufficient rejecters of modern culture. Proclaiming themselves as being in the world but not of the world, an idea they apparently lifted from Jesus Christ, they live as if in another century--one without Lady Gaga-- a concept I find quite appealing.

The Amish culture endorses many fine practices, but none is more intriguing than the election of leaders. This is done by "divine appointment," which comes down to little more than choosing straws. Not literally; instead, they write down a hymn on a piece of paper, slide it inside a prayer book, then randomly distribute the books among the nominated candidates. The one who finds the piece of paper inside his book is then declared the Leader, for life!

Imagine: No back-room deals! No campaign finance reforms, since there's no campaign! No millions spent on TV ads, because of no TV! No Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann with their 4-inch heels and dangly earrings and French manicures, since no women can be nominated! And best of all, there'd be no grumbling or complaining from the critical masses about hanging chads or voter fraud or lack of experience or past infractions or did he inhale or exactly where was he born anyway, because God picked the winner--Hallelujah!

Naturally, there would also be no Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or the dumb clucks at CNN or on "Meet the Press" or "Face the Nation," or any of the glamor gals and guys so busy feasting on our political system. Journalists would be all but eliminated and turn into functioning members of society. And without the constant grumbling about our politicians, we would all have much more free time--for barn-raising, growing our own food and raising our own kids, who all would stop going to school after the 8th grade, so no more high school! Were it not for those damn outfits they all have to wear and those horrible hair nets on all the women, I'd do it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Protesting the Protesters

If you're in your late teens or early 20s and have nothing better to do but go to class and learn something, you might saunter on down to Wall Street in Manhattan, or any of the franchise protests that have sprung up in cities around the country. There you can find like-minded stoners with lots of pierced parts and groovy tattoos who are also against the same things you are, which seems to include just about everything.

Having seen and heard several radio and TV interviews with many of the protesters, I'm stunned that so few of them seem intelligent. When asked their opinions on the Dodd-Feingold financial reforms, 15 in a row had never heard of them, didn't know of either Dodd or Feingold, and could care less. Shouting out "corporations are evil" and "money sucks," and holding signs suggesting we "get the riches away from the rich!" or "end capitalism!" seems to be de riguer, regardless of any basis in fact. One young woman said that "everything would be fine if we just didn't have any money." The mind boggles.

In my day, at least we were armed with the facts before we made complete fools of ourselves. I know I certainly did, except for that one time when I went along with some friends for a Sunday afternoon drive to Fort Dix, an army base in New Jersey, where a protest was going on to "Free the Fort Dix 48!" Or was it 38? Anyway, I had no idea who they were or why they weren't free, but it seemed like a good time and I was dating one of the guys and we were going out for pizza after, so what harm could there be? Plenty, it turned out, when the Army brought out the tear gas and I got a taste of that stuff on the front lines. My vision hasn't been quite right since.

Call me madcap, but I suspect that the lion's share of all those "occupiers" are just as ignorant as I was back then. On the other hand, at least they're getting some fresh air for a change.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Press "1" If You're Having a Stroke

This morning I faced the chilling task of clarifying my Medicare coverage which, through no fault of my own, had gotten all bollixed up because of the strange fact that my husband still works. If he was old like me everything would be fine, but since he's still a young buck with employee health insurance benefits, the universe is disturbed, causing a chicken and egg dilemma as far as who pays first, Medicare or the other guys.

Learning of this dire situation late yesterday, the resolution of which required me to call not only Medicare but the other insurance company and finally my own doctor's billing office, I naturally had a fitful night's sleep and awoke early to warm up my index finger and take an extra blood pressure pill. Despite a fresh pot of coffee and my button-pushing prowess, all was for naught when I was directed to "enter the first five letters of your last name on your telephone keypad," as I still--don't laugh--do not have an iPhone and have just one of the plain phones where you have to push three times for an R, three times for an O, etc.  So I couldn't fulfill that request, which totally blew my robot's mind, or wires or motherboard or whatever it has. Lacking brains, Robotica started all over again. Sensing it would be a long morning, I got more coffee.

Taking it from the top, she requested that I "Push or say one." I chose to say "one." She replied--with a chuckle, I swear--that she couldn't understand me. If she couldn't understand me saying the word "one," what chance was there she would understand my street address or where I was born or my mother's maiden name or my childhood nickname or my favorite pet or my first elementary school? Panicked, I did what any sane person would: I began screaming into the phone. That got results in a hurry, and suddenly Robotica was gone and there was a real human being on the line. All went smoothly from then on; I'm telling you, those humans simply cannot be beat! (Except if they're in the Philippines or India, but that's another story.)

Seriously, the next time you reach one of those recordings asking you questions, just start shouting obscenities directly into the mouthpiece of your phone and you will get some real help PDQ. This plan works especially well with Directory Assistance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Not-So-Friendly Skies

Against my better judgment but needing to get someplace in a hurry, I flew in a commercial jet this past weekend, which for me is a Big Deal. Ever since the time I wasted a really good high sitting on the tarmac for several hours, I wait until just before take off to drink a Bloody Mary and swallow a sedative, which means there was only coffee coursing through my veins while going through security. Sadly, I was wide awake for that.

We arrived at the airport with time to spare, especially since our flight was an hour late. After giving blood and urine samples curbside and signing over all rights to our first-born at the ticket kiosk, we approached the security compound. I immediately felt guilty and checked my pockets for drugs, box cutters and guns.  All clear. Next I removed everything and awaited my assignment to one of several contraptions, based on the assessment of the bitter TSA agent who could not find a better job and so, as a perk for standing there all day and staring at x-rays of luggage, gets to decide who looks like a terrorist and humiliates them accordingly. My husband's recent shoulder surgery prevents him from raising his arm above his head, and so he said aloud that he could not enter the little wind tunnel where you raise your arms above your head and hold still for a scan of your entire being, soul included.

Once Mitch uttered that, it was obvious to all TSA agents that he had explosives stuffed into every orifice of his body and thus he was treated to a "pat down" by a perverted little weasel of a man who stuck his hands into and under and over every inch of Mitch's body. Very slowly, if you ask me, and Mitch reported later that it had been a tad too intimate for his tastes. Then Weasel Man rubbed his gloved hands with some explosive-finding substance and re-checked a few areas, finally placing Mitch's wallet through the x-ray machine, just in case of a wallet bomb. While Weasel Man performed his lascivious task, I was completely ignored despite being totally naked and so strolled through with nary a glance from anyone. (I was so sorry I left my inter-uterine bomb at home--that would have fixed their wagons.)

After that ordeal, which Mitch handled much better than I--all he did was roll his eyes, while I was quite verbal about how stupid it all was-- I finally drank my Bloody Mary and swallowed my little white pill. Next time I will ingest those in the parking lot when we get to the airport.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Is it wrong to not like roses? Is it un-American? Well, right or wrong, I simply do not like them, never have. This is something not many people know about me, in fact maybe the only person who does know is my husband of 25 years. In fact, today is our 25th wedding anniversary. This morning he went out on an errand and arrived home with a bouquet of flowers, which he handed to me with the explanation, "I know you don't like roses but I thought these were festive." Red roses. (Not really red, more like pink with a red outline, the kind that do not grow in nature but in supermarket cold lockers.) Thanks honey, I appreciate you getting me something you know with certainty I will not like. So, should I have pretended to like the flowers? I did not, and then he was mad at me for not liking his gift. I am a terrible person. I should lie more. I am going to work on that.

But the thing is, I hate phony flowers. Many years ago a boyfriend appeared at my door with a bunch of daisies that had been spray painted blue. Some of the blue paint was on the stem. They were hideous. I told him to throw them away. A few days later, he told me that his shrink told him to break up with me, that I was crazy because who doesn't like flowers, only a crazy person. I do like flowers, but only the kind that grow naturally. And roses have thorns, which actually do hurt you, and that's just bizarre. Anyway, he was married.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Talkin' Bout My Generation

Last night I saw one of my heroes, Jackson Browne, in the flesh; he was so close I could almost reach out and touch him, if I had better seats. I had purchased the concert tickets months ago and had been counting the days for the last couple of weeks. It was a dream come true, and I hoped nothing would arise to spoil the night. On the drive into the city I worried: Did I have the time right--was it 7 or 7:30?  Did I even bring the tickets? Did I remember to blow out that candle in the bathroom? Would he be terrible?

In fact, my fears were for naught and all was perfect: We snagged a parking space on the street instead of in the parking lot, so we could avoid that mood-deflating, post-concert crawl. The venue, Portland's Merrill Auditorium, is one of the best: not too big, not too small, and with great acoustics. The ticket-holder directly in front of me was a no-show, so my vision remained unobstructed for the whole time. And Mr. Browne, who at 63 seems only to have improved with age, is still angel-faced and rail-thin with silky, brown hair. (One woman in the audience couldn't help herself and shouted out into the night, "Your hair looks great!" while others, including men, called out declarations of love.) His piano-playing was still other-worldly and magical, while his guitar--he played about twenty different ones during the evening--was by turns somber, haunting, elegiac, piercing and always spot-on. The whole thing was a dream come true, except.....

Except the sickeningly sweet smell permeating the hall wasn't of marijuana but likely a mixture of Shalimar and Old Spice. And the audience was full of old people, most of whom were fat and very out of shape. A majority of the men were bald or certainly balding, and almost all of the women had very short, very white hair. And everyone had wrinkled faces, except for Jackson himself (who I later learned via Google had had an eye job and a full face lift). They all looked like somebody's parents, certainly not us. It was grotesque! What were they doing there? I ran into the ladies room to splash cold water on my face, and with one look in the mirror my dream became a nightmare: I was one of them!

That was my last concert. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cover all the mirrors in my house.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tabloid Journalism and My Cousin

Amanda Knox is finally free and back in the USA today so you can expect to be seeing a lot of her at the supermarket checkout stand, as well as books by her and about her, movies about her and all the talk show hosts groveling at her feet. (Piers Morgan must be peeing in his pants to get an interview with her, not to mention the ladies of The View, which reminds me, how and when did Whoopie Goldberg get so fat--did she swallow Billy Crystal whole?) As for poor Casey Anthony, who also got away with murder not too long ago, she is now all but forgotten by the greedy public.

These days it is so hard to stay in the news, just ask Gabby Giffords. Now it's all Amanda, all the time, especially since Chris Christie will not be running for president and the boring race between Romney and Obama is hardly tabloid-worthy. But tabloids aside, you should check out Brian Keller, my cousin who writes a blog that is the funniest thing in the world. Really, it's much funnier than The Onion or SNL these days. I envy his ability to completely ignore punctuation and just go the stream-of-consciousness route, a la James Joyce of "Ulysses" fame, that highly-touted but little-read tome that is still required reading for college lit majors.

Brian, already a full-grown adult, has just started law school but really he is an advertising creative director-slash genius. (Of course like many geniuses, at least the ones in my family, he is unknown by most people who all think Lady Gaga is an original, not realizing that she got her whole act and much of her wardrobe from Madonna's Goodwill pile.) Sadly, Brian remains out of the tabloids, in part because he has never been in jail and certainly never killed anyone-- even though I have begged him to kill one certain person, he knows who I mean, and no it is NOT Keith Olbermann. Just one measly murder, or even manslaughter or accidental death, and you would have heard of Brian Keller by now, he is certainly much funnier than Amanda Knox and is also quite good-looking, if you ask me. Find him at

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Comparatively Speaking

Seventy-five percent of today's consumers shop with lists, compared to 45% who did so in 2008. Yesterday, American Airlines shares fell 33%. Nearly 90% of all people have nightmares at some point, and 5% of adults have them chronically. Living with a smoker increases a child's chance of getting an ear infection by 37%, unless it's the mother, then it's 62%. Pregnant women who eat well are 24% less likely to have a child with a cleft lip. Twenty percent of Wal-Mart customers do not have bank accounts. The HairMax LaserComb stimulates hair growth 93% of the time. Between 2007 and 2011, there was a 9% decline in the number of products stocked in American pantries and medicine cabinets. According to 72% of consumers, the economy has a ways to go until it hits rock bottom. Almost everyone in California--96%--is optimistic about the trend of office-space sharing. Sales of Huggies diapers fell 4% from August to September. And this is just a fraction--like maybe 65%--of the statistics reported in today's Wall Street Journal, which is the newspaper I read 100% of the time that I read newspapers, which is only about 30% of the time I am reading something.

An awful lot of people seem to be answering an awful lot of questions, but nobody has ever asked me anything. I have never gotten a survey in the mail about anything but politics, and nobody has ever called my home to ask my views on smoking or nightmares or diapers, yet these statistics on everything but the kitchen sink--and I bet you could find those if you tried--keep popping up in the news, like they matter. What are we to do with all these numbers? And who's responsible for them? Are people getting paid for this? Exactly what percentage of college graduates currently ask people questions for a living, as compared with how many will do it in the future?

I want answers.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Rick Perry and the N-Word

Just like the real news story, there's nothing of substance here beneath that sensational headline. But try telling that to the editors at the Washington Post who are having quite a bit of fun with this story. Gossip sells, plain and simple, and the worse it is, the more people want to read about it.

Don't hate Rick Perry because his family once owned a ranch 30 years ago that had a rock at the entrance with a racial slur printed on it, that Mr. Perry himself suggested they paint over ASAP; hate him because he's creepy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scary Thoughts

This morning I read a news story about a small plane that crashed into a Ferris wheel at a carnival, trapping several people for some time. That's something I never worried about before but I will now, not that I ever go on carnival rides. But once something happens it becomes a rational fear, as opposed to an irrational fear dreamed up by a deranged paranoid mind. I only allow myself rational fears--hey, I was in therapy for years to get this far. Here are some of my rational fears in no particular order:

Naturally I'm scared of mice, but who isn't.
I am somewhat afraid that I will be driving down the road and a drunk driving the wrong way will hit me head-on, killing me on impact. Sometimes I worry a speeding ambulance will crash into me. 
I am somewhat afraid that one or all of my cats will be eaten by a larger animal in the woods behind my house.
I am sort of afraid that my son will marry someone who doesn't like me and I will never see him again, except at my funeral which of course means I will never see him again. This relates to my fear that my husband will ignore my wishes and give me a funeral, which I don't want because I'm sure I would look terrible.
I worry I will start eating all the foods I have denied myself over the years and "let myself go" and never come back.
I am fearful a shark will bite my legs off when I enter the ocean. In lakes I just worry about piranhas or other big fish with teeth.

Those fears are not the ones that keep me up at night. These do:
I am afraid my blood pressure will make my head explode; I would take a sedative as suggested by my doctor but I worry I will become addicted to the sedatives.
Finding a lump during a breast self-exam is scary, so I don't do them very often which rightfully scares me.
I worry the furnace in the basement will blow up and kill me while I'm sleeping, which of course keeps me awake.  So then I'll be wide awake when it happens, and I wonder which is worse.