Sunday, November 27, 2011

Before It's Too Late

Nearing the end of another year, with 2012 just a month or so away, I am feeling less and less funny. By funny I mean amusing and witty as opposed to nauseous and disoriented, which in fact I do feel more and more often, come to think of it. The coming year has been proclaimed the last one for Earth by some people, having something to do with the Mayan calendar and warnings elsewhere of giant meteors, solar storms or super volcanoes obliterating our planet or at least all human civilization. The exact date when it's all supposed to end is is allegedly 12/21/12, although one wonders why not 12/12/12 which has a nicer ring to it.

What's sad to me is that our last year here in America will be spent with ordinary citizens pitted against one another in a deadly battle for control of the White House. The media will feed this growing bonfire incessantly, with things spinning more and more out of control the closer we get to Election Day, just a mere month before it all ends if you believe that 2012 doomsday stuff. I don't--but I do believe that our two political teams will grow further and further apart and throw bigger and bigger snowballs at one another, eventually tearing apart families and friendships. This seems like a whole lot of "not fun" to me and is probably why I am feeling less and less funny and more and more nauseous with each passing day.

Thus I have decided, for the Earth's last year of life or for this run-up to our next election, to avoid all political discourse and try, once and for all before it's too late, to read Jane Eyre all the way through, which I may never have done or if I did I've forgotten and have no idea what happens and why it's considered to be such a great work of art since every time I've tried it I fall asleep on the first page, and get into yoga which, again, everyone says is the best and I have deplored it, and really, finally, once and for all lose those last stubborn ten pounds you hear about so often.

What will you do before it's too late?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Black Friday

Once again I am out of step with 152 million of my countrymen and women who have already begun celebrating our newest holiday. I had no idea it was now official, but moments ago I heard two network news bimbos, both showing quite a lot of leg and one with hair teased to the sky, say "Happy Black Friday" to one another. Who knew? They then proceeded to roll footage of rioting at various Wal-marts nationwide showing shoppers eager to get good deals on Christmas gifts for their loved ones.

Here's my problem: Sometime this morning I will leave the safety of my home to purchase a specific item for my visiting son, who is leaving in a few hours to return to his own home. I will be patronizing a teeny little shop just a mile away and owned by a literal Mom and Pop, but today is Black Friday while tomorrow is Small Business Saturday! Should I instead drive to the Wal-mart 15 miles away and risk getting beaten, stabbed or trampled by the mobs in order to be a good American, not to mention get the damn thing for 50% off?

The worst part is that my son is mocking the whole thing, thanks to me being such a a bad role model. Unlike many of his generation he is not occupying Wall Street or even occupying Black Friday, but at 9:49 in the morning he is still, defiantly, occupying his bed. I'm so ashamed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Letter From Herman Cain

I picked up the mail at the post office today and was quite surprised to find not only a large platter of chocolate chip cookies placed next to the recycling bin--'tis the season already-- but a letter from Herman Cain, addressed to me! How he found me, I have no idea.

I skimmed it quickly but after spotting several typos on the first page I stopped reading; poor grammar and spelling errors really turn me off, I don't care who you are. And besides being wrong, his mistakes were so dated, like when he called himself the "frontrunner" as all one word but in the very next paragraph he was the "front runner" in two words, which is silly since everyone knows he is more like the caboose these days.

Herman stressed that he was "not running as a black American but as a proud American." Then he listed the reasons why I should vote for him, and the very first one was that he is "a descendant of slaves" and that as such he can "garner a large share of the black vote." WTF? As further enticement, he added that he has traveled the globe many times and he believes in Jesus Christ.

I am not writing back to him and I certainly hope he doesn't write to me again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Laughing Man

Last night my husband and I went to see a play called "God of Carnage." It was a Broadway box-office hit in 2009, but then it starred four seasoned actors, one of whom was James Gandolfino, a.k.a. Tony Soprano, always a hoot to watch. Naturally we lowered our expectations somewhat for Portland's finest thespians, but still-- nothing could have prepared us for what happened: The man sitting directly next to Mitch was in possession of a disturbingly loud, raucous, honking, persistent and downright imbecilic laugh, which he employed at random moments during the performance, very few of which were even funny. (I personally smiled a couple of times, and once I may have chuckled, but overall the play was not as funny as even a bad TV sitcom.)

Laughing Man sounded like Paul Bunyan laughing. He was the Jolly Green Giant, the Incredible Hulk, perhaps the Loch Ness Monster of laughing. Each laugh had the effect of a gunshot ringing out, bringing to mind Abe Lincoln slumping over at Ford's Theater. The thing is, Laughing Man looked perfectly normal and even had a date, and she never once told him to "pipe down." (A wife would have.) Fortunately the people in the row behind us were going nuts too, which gave me some solace that at least Mitch and I hadn't been singled out by God for the suffering.

I grew more and more pissed-off, but my husband, Mother Theresa, charitably pointed out that laughs come out of you and that's that, whereas I wondered: can the sound of our laughter be controlled or is it just the way it is, like our height or hair color?

Anyway, let the record show that Laughing Man ruined the evening for everyone, most probably the performers as well. His laugh resonated within the somewhat small theater, and instead of hearing what the actors were saying you heard that laugh, and then recovered from hearing it. Each and every time the booming laugh erupted, Mitch and I exchanged incredulous glances, shocked anew. One time Mitch toyed with the idea of laughing the very same way just to show Laughing Man how awful it was; I advised against it, saying the audience had suffered enough. These whispered exchanges cost us precious dialog, causing us to fall further behind in the story line and thus hindering our enjoyment further, although I guess that was pretty much our own fault.

Just saying--I  would have had a great time except for that guy. From now on, to be safe I am only going to attend dramas, no more comedies. Too risky.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Pictures, Please

Given the choice of fame or fortune, I'll take fortune; at least you can trade it for stuff you want or give it away to charity. But fame does nothing except bare your soul to the world and shine a hideous light on your most private moments. Despite having neither fame nor fortune, I am constantly forced to suffer people with both, and it's getting old. Suddenly--after winning the lottery or killing your child or writing a smash hit or marrying a rock star or running for office-- your beach body shows up in the tabloids and your air-brushed face graces magazine covers. But stumble just once and soon enough those YouTube videos broadcast your ignorance across the globe, while TV talk-show hosts spread lies and innuendo and comedians mine your cellulite, under-eye pouches, saggy boobs, paunchy middle, lost love, bitter divorce, plastic surgery and playful horsing around with underage boys, should your tastes run to that sort of thing, for their Vegas stand-up routines.

Last night I was home enjoying myself until I caught a fleeting glimpse of the once-vibrant Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords on television. Surrounded by nurses in a hospital setting, she sang "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" in the thin, wobbly  voice of a child. Almost bald with just a few tufts at the top, she looked like a newly-hatched baby bird and seemed sort of retarded, excuse my French. In reality, she looked like someone who had been shot in the head almost a year ago and is slowly making her way back, but she is clearly not back and seemed pathetic. Seeing that one minute of footage blew the rest of my evening. I wondered who decided we all needed to see that. Why is everything our business? Does seeing another person's private hell really help the rest of us? Lately, journalists rarely dispense information we need to know in order to survive but instead focus on everyone's dirty little secrets, as if we care! I must say in no uncertain terms: I wouldn't give a hoot if the entire football team at Penn State were fooling around with every one of the Boy Scouts of America. I would care if my own son were a Boy Scout or a ball player at Penn State, and I'd hope to be informed by the proper authorities at either institution. Otherwise, Anderson Cooper and his ilk should just shut up about it!

Long ago my friend Nancy F. made me promise that if she died before me I would get to the funeral home early enough to make sure her bangs were pulled down before the viewing; she worried her forehead was too small. I argued that in death nobody cares how big your forehead is, but she continued to beg and I naturally promised. In that same vein, I ask my loved ones to never broadcast me learning how to sing, if and when I suffer a head injury, and if they insist, to please choose a different song.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Exactly Rudolph's Red Nose

Growing up Jewish but with our best friends next door Italian Catholics, I developed a severe case of Christmas envy that lasted well into my twenties, and may have even been partly responsible for my first marriage to what is commonly known as a goy.  I distinctly remember Hanukkah as the poorest sort of substitute, wherein I opened a dreary little gift on each of eight nights in the ever-dimming light of the menorah candles, followed by some greasy potato pancakes that gave me an upset stomach; I may have been the youngest person on record with acid reflux. Yes, there was the dreidel game, but big deal-- a few spins and that was pretty much played.

It all contrasted sharply with the fantastic glow coming from the house next door, all lit up like a --well, like a Christmas tree. And inside, there was the actual tree with the sparkling special ornaments and the presents piled halfway up to the ceiling, and hot chocolate with whipped cream and festive cookies and candy canes and that drippy silver tinsel making everything glitter. Outside there were Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus all cozy in the manger and the Three Wise Men on the way bearing even more gifts, and Santa on top of it all, with Rudolph leading all the rest of them, and don't forget that bottomless bag of toys. Christmas was magical, no two ways about it.

Which is why the annual degradation of that holiday always bothers me, bringing the opposite of joy to the world. Here it is only mid-November and I'm already bummed out by this latest affront to the celebration of the birth of Christ that appeared on my Facebook page: "Join today and check out fun design objects for the holidays--like reindeer butt magnets." One wonders: WWJD?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Fish Tale

This was one of my favorite newspaper columns written back in 1997 when I lived in Salt Lake City. I'm posting it here because I can. Anyway, it's still funny.

Lately I’ve been confused about the double standard concerning fish. Are we supposed to take care of them, like the whole “Save the Dolphins” thing, or just torture them before swallowing, like the standard “All-You-Can-Eat-Fish-Fry” thing? Around our house, we do both. For example, take the fish in our backyard, which live in luxury in our three nice ponds; my husband is obsessed with their welfare. He starts each day by going out for a gill count. Then he feeds them, turns on a little waterfall so they won’t be bored, changes the water and generally fusses over them like a mother hen. But then last weekend he took our young son Zack fishing and came home with a dead trout in a plastic bag, blood still dabbling from its once-lively mouth.
      "What is that?" I yelled.
      "A fish! Actually a spotted trout, what do you think?" Mitch said proudly, holding it aloft for inspection.
      "I guess I meant, what happened to him?"
      "Dad caught him,” Zack said. “He was flopping around in the bag until just a few minutes ago, but there was a lot of traffic, and I think he died at the STOP sign on the corner. His name is Floaty," he added. “Can we have him for dinner?"
      "I made a pot roast for dinner," I said, shielding my eyes from the horror of the recently deceased Floaty. "From an unnamed source."

Somehow Mitch is able to throw a worm-covered hook into a river and trick an innocent creature—two if you count the worm- into an untimely death, yet he still carries on like a proud papa over his backyard babies--and I do mean babies. Not long ago, the pond fish got weird. Seeing them thrashing about, jumping in and out of the water in frenzied abandon, I hurriedly called my shrink friend, Dr. Laura. (Not the Dr. Laura, a different one.) Although she usually deals with nutty people, I figured she could spot a neurosis whatever the species. I was right; she saw mine immediately. Then she agreed that the situation at hand was not psychosomatic, declaring that I indeed had a pond full of "sick puppies." We decided to seek even more expert advice.

The first guy, a.k.a. Expert #1, was a clerk at the local pet store. He said flat-out, "They’ve obviously been poisoned by some fertilizer in the neighborhood which has drifted over into your pond. They’re as good as dead.” Ignoring him, I called Expert # 2, the owner of an aquarium shop, who said, "Fish are tricky. You never know with fish. Could be anything." Still hoping for a miracle cure, I called a third expert, a salesman at a local nursery, who said, "They might have a parasite which is making them itch. You could try either feeding them medicine or adding antibiotics to the water."
      "What’s the difference?" I asked.
      "About a hundred dollars."

I opted for the less expensive but still costly--don’t ask--treatment, which seemed to work, and the next day everyone but me returned to normal. One month later there were countless newborns, indistinguishable from specks of dirt, except for the swimming. Mitch has bonded with them already. He has designated the smallest pond as "the nursery" and is determined to save the babies from the natural course of events that decimated the last Guppy Boom: getting eaten by their parents. Mitch says the mother did it, I say the father--but I digress. He now has his hands full fishing out the babies with a net every morning. Despite that, he thinks nothing of blithely saying, just before throwing a hunk of salmon on the grill, "I moved three of the babies to the top pond today. I think they’ll be safer up there, don’t you?" Do you see my confusion? 

In case you wondered, Floaty ended up in the freezer where he remained until garbage pick-up day, at which time I sent him packing, causing Zack to exclaim, "Mom, how could you throw away Floaty?" The obvious moral of the story is: Never name your garbage.

Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Life

No matter how much I read, study and ponder, there are still things that escape my understanding. And while they don't keep me up at night, they do add to my confusion during the day, causing me to feel slightly "out of the know" as opposed to "in the know." I'm not talking about those run-of-the-mill mysteries of life that most of us marvel at, like why a talking gecko with an Australian accent, or how does pushing a few buttons in California alert your Aunt Sophie in Toledo--or maybe even Tuscany if she is vacationing--to push another button and suddenly hear your voice, or why is marijuana illegal but all those cold medications with deleterious side effects are not, and exactly what do they do for you in the hospital if you have an erection lasting more than fours hours and manage to get there?

No, I'm talking about new questions that have arisen in the past few days, like how could a man still be a football coach at the age of 84, and why was a 10-year-old boy taking a shower at Penn State in the first place, and how did everyone find out about it so many years later? And what kind of a woman says, in describing a man making a pass at her, "he reached for my genitals" instead of saying crotch or panties? Who in their right mind could possibly explain a complicated health care plan for the nation in 30 seconds or less, and why would anyone make such a request? What did Steve Jobs see on his deathbed that caused him to say, "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow," and is a deathbed different from a regular bed or is it the same bed until you are sick and then it's a sickbed first, sort of like when you are pregnant and your gynecologist turns into your obstetrician, then after the baby is born he turns back into your gynecologist? And the most perplexing of all: How is it possible that out of 157.2 million females in America as of October 2010, the only one running for president is Michele Bachmann, with her changing hair and big earrings and fussbudget husband who tries to make gays go straight?

Actually, now that I think of it, it's a wonder any of us fall asleep at night.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daddy for President

Sold a bill of goods by my ex-husband and a succession of psychiatrists, I bought into the fiction eons ago that I was unduly nervous. Now, after serious consideration and years of self-reflection, I think I am right on the money. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if you are not totally freaked out at this very moment, then something is drastically wrong with you. If you're drunk or on drugs, you're excused; otherwise, if you are actually calm, cool and collected in the year 2011, you must be nuts.

Why? Try earthquakes everywhere, sex offenders in Ivy League locker room showers, presidential contenders sticking their hands up women's skirts, missing tots killed by their parents, police warring with protesters around the country, nukes in the hands of nutcases across the globe, and heads of state resigning all over the place. As if that's not all bad enough, new reports show that your home--yes, your home--could go up in flames in three minutes or less owing to today's more flammable furnishings and building materials. And lest you forget, AIDS still runs rampant, our Attorney General is a dingbat, and Pentagon probes reveal that body parts of dead servicemen are regularly lost or misplaced. Still calm? Think the falling Dow and rising unemployment.

Amidst all this turmoil, "President Gingrich" has a nice ring to it. He is such a grown-up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Brain in Maine

Our newspaper delivery guy must be a native Mainer. About once a week he skips a day and delivers two papers the following day. When this first happened many months ago we thought our paper had been stolen, a common occurrence back when we lived in Washington, D. C. But since it only happens on Mondays, and none of our neighbors give a hoot about reading the Wall Street Journal, instead choosing the local paper for the movie schedules and local bargains, we realized that was not the case.

At first I was quite angry and considered calling the guy and giving him a piece of my mind. But I didn't get around to it, and soon enough my ire was replaced by concern over what might be the cause of his faulty performance. Did he get stinking drunk every weekend and oversleep on Monday mornings?  Did he have another job, desperately trying to make ends meet? Was that the day he took his wife for chemo treatments? Was he stuck at home with the baby once a week? What could it be? And did he think we didn't care, assuming that a double dose of news on Tuesdays was compensation for our dumb Mondays? Was that the "Maine way?"

Whatever the cause, I actually don't seem to care anymore and now chalk it up to a bit of local color. After being here for over two years, I am increasingly aware that life in Maine does have its benefits, and they just might make up for what's missing. I'll gladly skip my Monday paper if it means I can walk outside at night without quaking in my (duck) boots. Even better, the total absence of that relentless thief of time, bumper-to-bumper traffic, has already extended my useful life, so I am actually younger than when I moved here. (All you summer visitors should know: you bring that traffic with you.) And while I'm still not accustomed to driving 25 mph around town, with a few more warnings from one of the dozen cops on the local force, I'll get it eventually. Anyway, what's the big hurry; it's not like there's anywhere to go that won't still be there tomorrow.

Okay, so there's not a scrap of pastrami in the entire state and no bagels worth a damn. But according to my husband, Paleo Man, bagels are poison, and certainly pastrami cannot possibly be good for you--just look at it. Besides, our son is planning to move to Brooklyn so I'm guessing there are bagels in my immediate future, and maybe even a bialy or two. But he'd better ship them here, because I'm not leaving.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mother of the Year

Among the things I worry about--and there's a long list, as anyone who knows me will attest--is the fear that I have already or might still somehow damage my only child through bad parenting. This is not based on anything concrete, since at age 24 he is wonderful and I would not change one thing about him. Okay, maybe one thing--but nothing big. Okay, one or two big things--not really, I am just joshing. Okay, I'm not really joshing but anyway, I often wonder if somehow I inadvertently, or even advertently, contributed to whatever phobias or failings he may secretly harbor or may yet develop. After all, it's always the mother's fault, right? (Which is why, when my son was born, I got rid of all my see-through nighties, push-up bras, crotchless panties, sequined body suits and lace teddies. Naturally my husband balked, but I was adamant that our child's welfare came before his sick and twisted needs.)

Apparently not every mother is saddled with these concerns, as this very recent photo of the famous entertainer Cher illustrates. Here she is, posing for the paparazzi at last year's Video Music Awards ceremony, where she presented an award to Lady Gaga, who was dressed all in meat; I guess you've got to try harder when your competition wears strips of bacon and slabs of beef.

Anyway, Cher is exactly my age, which is old enough to get Medicare, which she damn well needs since she undergoes a plastic surgery procedure about once a month. Her daughter, the former Chastity Bono, is now quite publicly a male called Chaz, albeit without the requisite plumbing but with everything else necessary to warrant a female partner on "Dancing With the Stars."

I can't help but wonder, as I have before and no doubt will continue to do in the future, if Cher's questionable mothering practices played a part in her child's decision to change gender.  I'm not so sure I could accept a similar decision from my child, but if he did I'm sure I'd still love him. But I would definitely ditch that outfit and re-think the hair.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Again

I quit another job yesterday. By now I am really good at it, and in fact if there were a job opening for someone who quits jobs, I would definitely be the top candidate with the longest resume and the most references.

The thing is, you simply must quit a job when it becomes apparent that it is doing you more harm than good. Whatever the pay, if your soul is dying when you go there, you gotta leave. This last one of mine qualifies: Not only was the task inane--teaching seniors how to use computers--but the venue was bleak. I was working in what was euphemistically called an "assisted-living residence." Other terms might be minimum security prison or nursing home or get me the hell out of here.

On the face of it all looked good, but scratching the surface I discovered ineradicable tarnish and a one-way ticket to Nowheresville. I am now petrified of growing old and in fact have to stop writing immediately and go for a run while I still can. Oops...I just remembered I already can't due to an arthritic hip, so I'll just go for a brisk walk.

Note to self: Make every day count.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Survivor Does Wall Street

Don't believe everything you read. I learned this important lesson anew just moments ago when I opened up today's Wall Street Journal and saw their version of this letter I sent them a week ago: "Jaqueline Siegel and her husband David, whose shameless and self-indulgent lifestyle was profiled in your paper ("The Wild Ride of the 1%" Review, Oct. 22-23), represent the very worst of the human condition. They and their kind are the problem, not the banks or the politicians or Congress. Reading about their decision to build a 90,000 square-foot, single-family home at a cost of $50 million because, as Mr. Siegel said, "I couldn't spend all the money I was making," sent shivers down my spine. The fact that they they are passing on their greed to their eight children is an even more horrifying thought. One wonders what would happen if the Siegels were magically transported to the heart of the Occupy Wall Street protest and left there to explain themselves--now that's a reality TV show I would happily watch!"
Harsh words indeed, and I meant every one of them!  But here is what appeared in the paper today:
David and Jaqueline Siegel, whose shameless and self-indulgent lifestyle was profiled in   "The Wild Ride of the 1% " (Review, Oct. 22), are the problem, not the banks or the politicians or Congress. Reading about their decision to build a 90,000-square-foot, single-family home at a cost of $50 million because, as Mr. Siegel says, "I couldn't spend all the money I was making," sent shivers down my spine.
Gone are their eight children who surely will inherit their greed and spread it, procreating with the offspring of other greedy folks. Gone is the statement that they represent the very worst of the human condition, a fact that should never be forgotten by anyone who envies their lot. Worst of all, gone is one great idea for a reality show pitting the Siegels against the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters. I'd watch that--wouldn't you?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's Curtains for The Herminator

Just what we need--another black man with a sex drive! (One would think the whole "Clarence Thomas thing" had taught them all a lesson.) Turns out Herman Cain was a nasty boy back when he was the pizza king--or so say his accusers, although none of them--and the list is growing daily--has divulged the details of the alleged sexual harassment. The way things are going, Obama just might beat the competition after all, since it seems that any man running for his office has a penis and isn't afraid to use it, and every woman with half a chance is a whacked-out witch.

What qualifies as sexual harassment anyway? I can remember when an approving glance from a passing male was considered a compliment, as was commentary by construction workers on lunch break as to what parts of my anatomy were most pleasing.  I had many bosses over the years who did worse, and not just to me but to anything in a skirt. None of them seemed dangerous. I did not find any of it offensive. I did not want to sue any of them. Some of them were also African-American.

People today need to chill out. Obviously Herman Cain should not be elected in 2012, but that's because he doesn't even understand how to compare apples and oranges and not because he told some woman years ago that she was hot. Besides, as he recently explained to the press (see photo above), he has a teenie-weenie-peenie which he never shows to anyone but his wife.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Musings on Death and Candy

This morning, feeling the effects of too many 3 Musketeers (fun size) and Hershey Cookies 'n' Cremes (snack size), I am filled with remorse, not to mention a boatload of sugar, palm oil, ferrous sulfate, lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, cocoa powder, egg whites, emulsifier, salt and artificial flavors. I may also contain peanuts. But most of all, I am wondering if death played a part in my piggish consumption of all that Halloween candy last night. If I thought I'd live forever, might I have eaten less--or even more?

Each year, against my will, I participate in this once holy and Christian but now just fattening and dumb global ritual, fearing that if I turn off the porch light and ignore the doorbell, evil will rain down upon my house. This of course is ridiculous since most of the would-be tricksters are mere toddlers who can barely even say "trick or treat." They just stand there in their not-quite-costumes with their bags held open, waiting for the payoff which is pretty standard fare these days, unlike back in the day when you got something exciting. Then came the razor blade warnings and now it's just the same stuff everyone is dispensing.

Turns out that virtually all of the very few known candy-poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children's candy. But knowing that death is coming and that this Halloween could be my last, as it could for us all including the cute little zebra and the lovely Snow White, I go along. Later, finding myself alone with the uneaten remains of this bizarre celebration, I behave badly, rationalizing, "If not now, when?" The morning after, alive but nauseous, I hate myself.

Sometimes, for no reason at all or for a very good reason indeed, I flash on the fact that I will not live forever and so I should enjoy myself right now or be nicer to someone I dislike or lose those stubborn ten pounds already. If eternity beckoned I might weigh 500 pounds today, reasoning I can always start my diet next year instead of tomorrow. I might also still be living in California; minus the fear of perishing in an earthquake, it has a lot to recommend it, really. And without the fear of dying I would travel a lot more, and might even have the spunk to fly to India or Hawaii or New Zealand. Of course, the planes would be so much more crowded what with all the people who never died, it would be impossible to ever book a flight.

Still, I wonder: Does death serve another purpose beyond our eventual mulching of the planet? I'm undecided, but I know I would worry less, and that could only be good.